The Palestinian Authority (PA) has threatened legal action against outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman after he called the City of David in Jerusalem an “icon of America’s Judeo-Christian values.”
The City of David is dedicated to uncovering and preserving the crucial archaeological finds of Israel’s biblical history and the ancient world.
But the Palestinian Authority bristled after Friedman equated Israel’s biblical past, preserved at the site, to American values.
On Monday, the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem alongside the United States Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, held a special ceremony at the City of David in recognition of the “seminal role” the biblical archaeological site plays “in connecting its visitors to the origins of the values that helped shape America.”
In a statement, the U.S. Embassy elaborated on the importance of the biblical archaeological site in Jerusalem.
“The archaeological discoveries at the City of David bring biblical Jerusalem back to life and reaffirm the prophetic messages of freedom, justice and peace that inspired America’s founders,” the statement said.
In his speech, Friedman linked the foundation of America to Israel’s biblical past and shared Judeo-Christian values.
“When the drafters of the Declaration of Independence proclaimed that our Creator had endowed each and every American with certain unalienable rights, what monuments inspired them? I suggest that those monuments are located right here, in the ancient City of Jerusalem. We have given this plaque to the City of David Foundation with the hope that it will prompt all who read it to think of the Judeo-Christian values upon which our country was founded and how those values were inspired by ancient Jerusalem and its inhabitants,” Friedman said.
Following the U.S. Embassy ceremony, the PA’s foreign ministry accused Friedman of recognizing a “settlement project … in the occupied city of Jerusalem.”
“Friedman’s bigoted statements are a flagrant violation of international legitimacy and its resolutions, and international law and diplomatic traditions,” the foreign ministry said, adding that it would consult with “legal experts and the concerned authorities to discuss the possibility of holding Friedman accountable before international and specialized courts.”
The PA rejected Friedman’s speech as “illegal, invalid … and reflects Friedman’s intentions and the dark ideology he tries to attach not only to his country, but to the American constitution and principles, and to employ them for the benefit of the Israeli narrative in Jerusalem.”
The PA’s hostile reaction was expected, given its history of questioning Israel’s biblical history and uninterrupted connection between Jerusalem and the Jewish people. Palestinian leaders, from the late PLO chief Yasser Arafat to current PA chief Mahmoud Abbas, have long maintained that Palestinians are the “indigenous population” of an “ancient Palestine” with no Jews, and many have even cast Jesus as a “Palestinian.”
Rejecting Israel’s ancient Jewish past, would require the PA to also reject any archaeological sites that reveal Israel’s Jewish past and condemns anyone who recognizes it. Many contend that if the PA denies Israel’s historic legitimacy, it also undermined prospects for a realistic peace with the Jewish state.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.