US officials visit City of David in Jerusalem
A delegation of US senior officials, headed by National Security Advisor John Bolton, meet for dinner with Israeli counterparts in one of the capital's most visited locations, which is run by a right-wing organization Elad that deals with Jewish settlement in eastern Jerusalem; In the meantime, US President Trump says Israel would 'have to pay a higher price' in negotiations with Palestinians.
The dinner took place only hours before President Trump’s announcement that Israel would “have to pay a higher price” in negotiations with the Palestinians in return for his December recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and was attended by US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, the head of the National Security Council Meir Ben-Shabbat, Israel's Ambassador to US Ron Dermer, and other Israeli officials.
Although City of David is defined as a national park, it is still considered to be a politically sensitive location since it is run by the right-wing organization Elad, which deals with Jewish settlement in eastern Jerusalem.
Before the meal, the attendees toured the antiquities of the City of David—some of which date back to 4,000 years ago.
Vice President of the City of David, Doron Spielman, who was the US delegation’s tour guide on the occasion, expressed his feelings regarding the visit.
"The City of David is proud to host the distinguished delegation in a place that holds so much significance not only for the Jewish people but for the entire world. The City of David is an ancient nucleus from which Jerusalem was born, and the place where King David established the capital of Israel around 3,000 years ago,” Spielman exclaimed.
The City of David National Park, where dinner was held, is one of the most visited sites in Jerusalem and it has been run by Elad since 2002. Elad is responsible for the settlement of Jews in various neighborhoods of eastern Jerusalem.
Other governmental bodies are responsible for the City of David’s operations: the Israel Land Administration owns the land, the Nature and Parks Authority manages the national park and The Jewish Quarter Development Company manages Warren's Shaft—an ancient vertical shaft, one of the main attractions in the City of David.
Overnight Wednesday, US President Trump had addressed crowds at a campaign rally in Charleston, West Virginia, where he said that Israel would “have to pay a higher price” in negotiations with the Palestinians in return for his December recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Trump claimed he had “taken Jerusalem off the table” despite being “inundated with calls” from foreign leaders urging him not to make his expected declaration, Trump made clear that the Israelis would be expected to make heavy compromises in future negotiations.
“And if there’s ever going to be peace—remember I said it—with the Palestinians it was a good thing to have done because we took it off the table because every time there were peace talks, they never got past Jerusalem becoming their capital, so I said let’s take it off the table,” Trump said, explaining his strategy.
“And you know what, in the negotiation, Israel will have to pay a higher price because they won a very big thing, but I took it off the table,” he continued.
Repeating several times that he had removed Jerusalem from becoming an obstacle to successful negotiations, Trump stated that the Palestinians would soon reap the benefits of the move.
“But they’ll get something very good because it’s their turn next. Let’s see what happens."
The president also criticized his predecessors for failing to deliver campaign promises to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to move the embassy to Jerusalem.
“And I understand now what happened. Because every president—many, many presidents—they said ‘we’re going to do it. We’re going to move our embassy to Jerusalem. It’s going to be the capital of Israel. We’re going to do it, we’re going to do it’ and then they don’t do it. Politicians, they don’t do it. So I said I’m going to do it,” the president concluded.