First Published: 2017-10-10

Ancient pools near Bethlehem set for renovation
Three Solomon's Pools in illegally occupied West Bank were built around the time of Jesus's birth, were key sources of water for Jerusalem.
Middle East Online

General view shows Solomon's Pools in the Palestinian town of Bethlehem.

AL-KHADER, OCCUPIED WEST BANK - Ancient pools that provided water to Jerusalem around the time of Jesus are to be restored under a $750,000 renovation funded by the United States, officials said Tuesday.

The three Solomon's Pools near Bethlehem in the illegally occupied West Bank were built around the time of Jesus's birth and were key sources of water for the city, according to research from the Institute for Palestine Studies (IPS).

The first aqueduct which fed the pools from the south was probably built by Herod the Great between 37 and 4 BC, the study showed.

In the 2,000 years since, they have fallen into disrepair and only two of the three are full with water, with the oldest one in poor condition.

At least six people have drowned in the unmonitored pools since 1993, according to the IPS.

The US Consulate in Jerusalem has provided $750,000 for renovations and hopes to see the pools become part of a major tourism site in the West Bank, which Israel occupied in 1967 in an unrecognized move considered illegal by the international community.

"This project is about more than just protecting history. It is about protecting the lives and livelihoods of the people living here today," US Consul General Donald Blome said.

The grant comes at a time when US President Donald Trump is trying to convince Palestinian and Israeli leaders to restart stalled peace negotiations and economic support to the Palestinians has been a key pillar of such attempts.

"(Trump) has made it clear that a necessary element for the achievement of peace would be unlocking the full potential of the Palestinian economy," Blome added.

High in the hills and with dry conditions much of the year, Jerusalem has suffered from water shortages throughout its history.

George Bassous, general manager of the Solomon's Pools, said the site had been neglected.

"The importance of this site stems from the fact that it has for centuries provided Jerusalem with water, so it is our duty to protect and restore it."

 

Tillerson pushes to undercut Iran at landmark Saudi, Iraq meeting

US-backed forces capture key Syria oil field

UN ends Libya talks with no progress made

Gulf share values plummet

Greening the Camps brings food and hope to refugees

No clear US strategy in Syria after Raqqa liberation

More than half of Austrians vote for anti-immigration party

Washington sees potential Hezbollah threat in the US

Cairo killing sparks security concerns among Copts

Iraq PM arrives in Saudi to upgrade ties

35 Egyptian police killed in Islamist ambush

Morocco recalls Algeria envoy over 'hashish money' jibe

Ceremony marks 75 years since WWII Battle of El Alamein

Somalia attack death toll rises to 358

Long road ahead for families of jailed Morocco protesters

How Raqa recapture affects complex Syrian war

Israel hits Syrian artillery after Golan fire

Germany advances Israel submarine deal after corruption holdup

Bashir Gemayel's killer convicted, 35 years later

SDF hails 'historic victory' against IS in Raqa

Hamas delegation visits Iran

Turkish court orders release of teacher on hunger strike

Yemen rebel youth minister urges children to join war

Iran's Guards show no intention of curbing activities in Mideast

EU will cut some money for Turkey as ties sour

Iraqi workers return to oil fields retaken from Kurds

Kurdish disarray shows resurgence of Iraq's army

Iranian military chief visits frontline near Syria's Aleppo

Iraq army takes last Kurd-held area of Kirkuk province

Ancient Turkish town set to vanish forever under floodwaters

Turkey issues arrest warrants for 110 people over Gulen links

Lebanon approves first budget since 2005

Tillerson does not expect Gulf crisis to be resolved soon

Moscow seeks to boost its influence in Kurdistan through oil

Hamas calls US unity comments ‘blatant interference’

OPEC chief pleased with oil market rebalancing

Turkish police detain leading civil society figure

G7, tech giants meet to tackle terror online

Iraq’s Kurdish regional government open to Baghdad talks

Tensions flare among Yemen's rebels

Baghdad court issues arrest warrant for Iraqi Kurd VP

Erdogan, Nigerian counterpart to ramp up cooperation

Russian medics operate on Yemen's Saleh despite embargo

Baghdad condemns oil deal between Russia’s Rosneft, Kurds

Power shifts again in Iraq's multi-ethnic Kirkuk