Israel to go ahead with controversial archeology project
The Israeli government has approved the implementation of an archeology project in East al-Quds (Jerusalem), a new move that may scupper the peace talks with the Palestinian Authority.
The Israeli Interior Ministry announced the decision on Friday to push ahead with plans to build a visitor center in the neighborhood of Silwan outside the Old City walls.
Residents of the area and the Palestinians have already objected to the project.
The ministry, however, defended the decision, saying the complex "will show important archaeological discoveries to the public."
Palestinians say this is aimed to strengthen the Israeli government's presence in the neighborhood and is part of an Israeli attempt to strip East al-Quds of its Islamic and Palestinian identity.
Last month, Palestinian media reported that several ancient archeological sites were damaged as a result of Israel’s controversial excavations in Silwan.
The Palestinian al-Aqsa Foundation says the excavations are part of an Israeli plan to build a seven-story building which will serve as a cultural center.
The go-ahead for the controversial project comes shortly after the Palestinian Authority made it clear during the US-brokered negotiations with Tel Aviv that it will never recognize Israel as a "Jewish state."
The Palestinians insist that no peace deal will be achieved without an independent Palestinian state with East al-Quds as its capital.