U.S. officials attend controversial opening

Pool photo/AP

People take selfies inside a tunnel during the opening of an ancient road at the City of David, a popular archaeological and tourist site in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan in east Jerusalem.

The Associated Press JERUSALEM (AP) — American officials looked on Sunday as Israel opened a newfound Roman-era street at a divisive archaeological site in east Jerusalem, a move that deepened Palestinian animosity toward the White House’s mediation efforts.

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman attended the event along with three other visiting American ambassadors as well as U.S. President Donald Trump’s Mideast negotiator, Jason Greenblatt, and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham.

The City of David Foundation unveiled what it called “the pilgrimage road,” a 2,000-year-old main thoroughfare from Roman-era Jerusalem that it says served visitors to the ancient Jewish Temple.

The multiyear project to excavate beneath the mostly Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan cost over $100 million, with donors including Russian billionaire Roman Abramovitch, Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson and Oracle founder Larry Ellison.

Adelson attended the event, as did Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife, Sara.

Visitors will be able to “touch history” by walking in the footsteps of ancient pilgrims through a 350-meter stretch of tunnel along the ancient street that ran uphill to the Jewish temple, the City of David Foundation said.

But the presence of the American officials sparked new accusations that the U.S. is helping Israel “Judaize” east Jerusalem. The Palestinians severed ties with the White House after Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017.

Israel captured east Jerusalem, home to the city’s most sensitive holy sites, in the 1967 Mideast war and annexed the area in a move that is not internationally recognized. The Palestinians seek east Jerusalem as the capital of a future independent state.Speech

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