Ambassador Friedman Denies Sledgehammer Was Political

YERUSHALAYIM -
U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman at the opening of an ancient road at the City of David archaeological site in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, June 30, 2019. (Flash90)

On Sunday, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman took a sledgehammer to break through a wall in the City of David, inaugurating a new archeological tourist site.

On Monday, the American diplomat was explaining why no one should interpret that as an aggressive act against Palestinians who claim it symbolized coming U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over eastern Yerushalayim, where the ceremony took place.

“It was the appropriate tool with which to symbolically open a historic underground excavation. If we were opening a bridge we’d probably use something else,” he told The Times of Israel.

“The City of David is a once in a century discovery of enormous historical significance to many Americans, as well as Israelis. That’s why I attended. No political message was intended,” Friedman added.

As for the Palestinian-populated Silwan neighborhood where the site is located, Friedman said again that he does not think the Israeli government would ever consider giving up this part of Yerushalayim to the Palestinians in any future peace agreement.

“This is my view based on the facts. This does not prejudge the outcome of future negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians,” he said.