March 27th, 2017
The City of David, the core of ancient Jerusalem outside today’s Old City walls, set the dramatic stage for an early morning meeting with Nir Barkat, the Mayor of Jerusalem, who welcomed the diplomats at the Pool of Siloam, mentioned both in the Old Testament and in the Gospel of John as the site where Jesus healed the blind man.
From there Nir Barkat surprised the Ambassadors with a visit to an ongoing excavation not yet open to the public: a seven-meter wide Herodian road, which Jewish pilgrims took to reach the ancient Temple after their ritual bath at the pool.
Standing next on top of what is believed to be the palace of King David, with a view of the Mount of Olives and the Old City Walls, Mayor Barkat told the Ambassadors that, “these findings strongly contradict UNESCO’s claims that deny the historical connection between the Jewish people and the Christian world to the Land of Israel.” He further explained how the city is working hard to facilitate the free access to all these religious and historical sites while at the same time respecting the needs of today’s residents, be they Muslim, Christian or Jewish. “The way the Israeli authorities see the connection between very ancient history and actual life is a very rich approach to handle the complex challenges of the City of Jerusalem,” one diplomat said.
From Jerusalem, the Ambassadors drove to Ramallah where they met with Rami Hamdallah, Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, to discuss the prospects of finding new language for a UNESCO Resolution on Jerusalem that could be acceptable to both Israelis and Palestinians.
The last stop was Jericho, where diplomats learned about the Jericho Agro Industrial Park, a joint project supported by Japan, Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and Jordan all working together and designed to bring new investments and jobs to the Palestinian economy.
The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Project Interchange.