Amitim L’Tiulim, a Zionist initiative dedicated to connect Israelis to their land through hiking, recently approached US Ambassador David Friedman to help make Solomon’s Pools, near Bethlehem, in the Palestinian Authority, accessible to Israeli citizens.
This historical Jewish site is not under Israeli control due to one of the many errors made during the Oslo Accords.
The request is based on the fact that the United States government has been providing a generous budget to the renovation of the ancients site, and so it should be entitled to condition its continued support on removing the discrimination against Israeli visitors.
Solomon’s Pools are three ancient reservoirs located in Judea, immediately to the south of the Arab village of al-Khader, about 3.1 miles southwest of Bethlehem, on the road to Hebron. The pools are named after King Solomon (10th century BC), and are possibly related to verse 2:6 in the Book of Ecclesiastics: “I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees.” Josephus wrote that Solomon used to enjoy the beauty of the water-rich Ein Etham spring. There is a tradition that the king built the pools for his wives.
The three pools are surrounded by pine trees, providing a pleasant atmosphere for picnics and relaxation. On the north side, at the entry to the park, stands an Ottoman-era that has been developed as part of the new tourist complex, with a museum of ethnography and history, and a restaurant with a garden area. Much of the complex is still being developed.
Amitim L’Tiul co-founders Amit Ararat, Tzahi Mamo, and Shlomo Colman wrote the ambassador: “There is no doubt that the archaeological finds and the entire initiative are part of the preservation of the activities of the Jewish nation in the Land of Israel. Unfortunately, the site is located in an area under Palestinian control, which is why access to it is not free, as required from tourist, archaeology and tradition sites.”
According to Makor Rishon, which reported the story on Friday, the fact that Solomon’s Pools are not under Israeli control is the result of an error. As part of the Oslo agreements, Bethlehem came under Palestinian Authority control without Solomon’s Pools, which were intended to be included in Area C, under full Israeli control. The name “Solomon’s Pools” were marked in the map as being on the Israeli side of the border, but the actual territory was included in the area under PA control.
Amitim L’Tiulim invited Ambassador Friedman to tour the site, in order to understand its historic and cultural value, as well as see first hand the damage caused by its neglect by the Palestinian Authority.