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Saturday, 4 July 2015

Israel hides colonization policy with fake archaeological digs


An Israeli government preservation agency is working with Israeli settlers who are colonizing Palestinian territory and displacing residents under the guise of protecting historic archaeological sites, according to the British Foreign Office.

Ministers say they are concerned that the Israel Antiquities Authority - the Israeli government agency in charge of preserving historic artifacts - is undermining efforts for peace in the region by working with "radical" settlers, the Elad group.

"We are aware of the link between the Elad group and the Israel Antiquities Authority. We are concerned that this link has led to Israel Antiquities Authority's support of radical settler activities in and around the Old City under the guise of tourism and protection of Jewish history," Conservative Foreign Office Minister Joyce Anelay was quoted as saying by the Independent.

"Such actions not only aggravate mounting pressures in East Jerusalem but serve to increase tension around the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif and further complicate future attempts to negotiate a political resolution on the city."

Elad has previously paid the Israeli Antiquities Authority to dig deep trenches near the foundations of Palestinian homes and mosques in East Jerusalem. Palestinian residents of the area blamed the excavations for the collapse of a number of their buildings, according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

Last week, Elad settlers reportedly entered an East Jerusalem apartment building occupied by Palestinians and removed the belongings of the people who lived there. At the time, one resident whose belonging were taken was answering a summons at a local police station.

In a statement, the group said the property belonged to them and that it had "exercised its rights."

Since 1978, the Israeli Antiquities Authority has been charged with identifying, preserving and excavating historical artefacts in the region.

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said this month during the country's general election campaign that there would be no Palestinian state on his watch. His statement, which he hastened to retract, drew criticism from the United States, which supports a two-state solution. 

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