European diplomats have slammed Israel for using archaeological tourism to legitimise illegal settlements in Palestinian areas of Jerusalem.
The warning comes in a report, leaked to The Guardian, which accuses Israeli authorities of using excavation and findings “as political tools to modify the historical narrative and to support, legitimise and expand settlements”.
Among the examples listed was that of the City of David, where 450 Jewish settlers who provide archaeological tours live under heavy security near a government-funded archaeological park in the area of Silwan, home to 10,000 Palestinians.
The report also cites a proposed new cable car with stations planned for confiscated land and the planned classification of built-up Palestinian areas as ‘national parks’.
In their annual report, the Jerusalem-based EU Heads of Mission write: “East Jerusalem is the only place where Israeli national parks are declared on populated neighbourhoods.”
Archaeology and tourism development from both public and private money helped established what the report said was a “narrative based on historic continuity of the Jewish presence in the area at the expense of other religions and cultures”.