(JNS.org) Final steps are underway for the City of David’s “Kedem” visitor’s center in Jerusalem, with a number of Israeli public officials and prominent archaeologists speaking out in support of the project.
According to the City of David, the building was designed by Arieh Rahaminmoff, the former chairman of UNESCO in Israel, and will sit on top of the “Givati Parking Lot” excavation just outside of the Old City of Jerusalem’s walls. The visitor’s center will serve as an entryway to the Jerusalem Walls National Park, which includes the City of David and Mount Zion, as well as to the Old City’s Ophel and Hulda Gates.
The project, however, has been criticized by some Palestinians and left-wing activist groups for its location in the predominately Arab eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan and for interfering with the skyline of the Old City.
Nevertheless, a number of public officials and archaeologists—such as Harvard University professor of design Carl Steinitz, Nobel Laureate Yisrael Aumann, renowned archaeologist Dr. Gabriel Barkay, former IDF military intelligence chief Amos Yadlin, and former Mossad director Shabtai Shavit—have spoken out in favor of the project.
“The challenge of preserving the ancient character of Jerusalem, while developing it as a modern city in the 21st century is no easy task… the ‘Kedem Center’ [will] not damage the area in question (skyline, archaeology, environment, etc.), it will unequivocally complement and enhance it,” the project’s supporters said in a statement.
According to the City of David, the structure will sit approximately 21 feet below the Old City walls so that it will not affect the iconic Jerusalem skyline.
“The City’s goal is to lay down the infrastructure to accommodate about ten million visitors per year, and the ‘Kedem Center’ plays a large and important role in creating this infrastructure, given its convenient location in a central part of the national park and the ancient city and the high quality of the site itself,” Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said in a statement.