Tourism to legitimise Israeli settlements? EU report sums all

By Irfan Ansari


EU diplomats in the Jerusalem have raised the concern about Israel’s development of archaeological and tourism sites to legitimise illegal settlements in Palestinian outskirts of the city “as a political tool to modify the historical narrative and to support, legitimise and expand settlements”

The report elaborated settler-run excavation sites in the heart of majority-Arab localities, a recommended cable car project with stops on confiscated land and the designation of built-up urban areas as national parks.

“East Jerusalem is the only place where Israeli national parks are listed on populated neighbourhoods,” the report revealed.

The document, a report written annually by the EU Heads of Mission in Jerusalem, presented a bleak picture, saying the overall situation in the city and the prospects for peace had worsened.


Marginalisation of Palestinians, who constitute approximately 37% of the city’s residents, continued unabated, with more than 130 building demolitions and the displacement of 228 people, it said.

Palestinians protesting Israeli expansion | Image: Amnesty International

A record number of Israeli settlement proposals and the physical isolation of Palestinians under a strict Israeli permit scheme meant “the city has largely ceased to be the Palestinian economic, urban and commercial centre it used to be”.

Archaeology and tourism development by government institutions as well as private settler organisations established what it said was a “narrative based on historical continuity of the Jewish presence in the area at the expense of other religions and cultures”. Chief among them, the report warned, was the City of David, a government-funded archaeological park in the Palestinian neighbourhood of Silwan that provides tours in the ruins of ancient Jerusalem.

The site is operated by a settler organisation “promoting an exclusively Jewish narrative while detaching the place from its Palestinian surroundings”.

Thumbnail image for Israel announces plans to build 450 new settler homes in West Bank | Al Jazeera America

Approximately 450 settlers live under heavy protection in Silwan, the report said, alongside almost 10,000 Palestinians. Continued evictions of Palestinian families and the increased Israeli security presence have created a particular tension, it warned.

More recently, a cable car project approved by the Israeli cabinet in May plans to connect West Jerusalem with the Old City, part of Jerusalem internationally recognised as occupied.

Expected to be operational in 2020 and aiming to transport more than 3,000 people per hour, the report warned the “highly controversial” plan would contribute to the consolidation of “touristic settlements”. The project also aims, in a second phase not yet approved, to extend further into East Jerusalem.

“Critics have described the project as turning the World Heritage site of Jerusalem into a commercial theme park while local Palestinian residents are absent from the narrative being promoted to the visitors,” it said.

In addition, the diplomats warned, the cable car could lead to a deterioration of the security situation, as it would be located about 130 metres from the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif complex, revered as a holy site by both Muslims and Jews.

This summer, gunmen killed two Israeli police officers at the entrance to the site, and the subsequent installation from authorities of metal detectors led to further clashes.




Also read: Why countries supported, opposed and abstained the UNGA resolution: Decoding the voting pattern

Subscribe to the International Relations Updates by The Kootneeti

* indicates required

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Kootneeti Team

Facebook Comments

The Kootneeti Team

This report has been written by The Kootneeti Team. For any feedbacks/query reach || Twitter: @TheKootneeti

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *