Today we had a blend of archeology and politics. Our first stop was the city of David. South of the Temple Mount, David conquered a small settlement (around two square blocks) of Jebusites around 1000 BC. Digs started in 1927 and still ongoing have uncovered foundations and other items from that time period. In 2005, claims were made that David’s Palace had been discovered, but this is very controversial with much disagreement. More digging will firm up the evidence.
Next stop was a neighborhood just below the site where the government wants to take the homes of 90 Palestinian families to build a parking lot. The people are refusing to move. One of the residents met with us and passionately defended his right to stay in the house and property his family has occupied for 150 yrs.
Next we met with the Israeli Foreign Minister in charge of Palestinian relations who presented the government’s position that the Palestinians must return to bi-lateral talks with Israel to agree on a two-state solution.
Then we traveled to Ramallah, a booming Palestinian City in the West Bank. Going to Ramallah means going through a checkpoint that prevents Palestinians who do not have the necessary permits from traveling to Jerusalem (only about 5% of Palestinians living in the West Bank have permits that allow travel to Jerusalem). Israel has built a wall that physically prevents Palestinians from leaving their designated areas.
We had lunch in Ramallah, then met with the The Director of the Commission for International Relations of the Palestinian Authority, Mr Husam Zomlot. As you might expect, his positions are totally opposite those of the Israeli Foreign Minister, and sees the only solution coming from a multi-lateral negotiation that includes the US and UN.
When we were about to leave Ramallah, we learned that there were Palestinian demonstrations at the checkpoint we passed through, so we went the opposite direction to a calmer checkpoint and returned to Jerusalem.