***image1***Advertisements featuring a map advertising all of historic Palestine as an Israeli tourist attraction are being removed from the London tube, following massive pressure and complaints. These maps mirror Occupation practices on the ground, which include the annexation of touristic sites across the West Bank and their incorporation into settlement industry.
The campaign against the ads began late last week, when the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) started to receive information from members about adverts that they had seen on the London Underground. The adverts by the Israeli Ministry of Tourism and ThinkIsrael included a map that included the West Bank, Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights.
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign, together with Jews for Justice for Palestinians, immediately started working to bring these adverts down. Complaints were sent to the Advertising Standards Agency, Transport for London and CBS Outdoor (the company who had put up the adverts) by PSC members and supporters.
These maps used in these advertisements, however, were not a mistake. Rather, the London advertisement mirrors Occupation policy in regards to the annexation of historical and touristic sites in Palestine. Sites such as Qumran in the Jordan Valley as well as Mar Elias or St. Georgeâs Monasteries, are occupied and promoted by the Israeli tourism board.
Bethlehem is by far the most striking example. One of the most famous areas, Rachelâs Tomb, is surrounded by Occupation soldiers and checkpoints. As less well known case is the Herodion and the recently discovered tomb of Herod, located outside of city. The Herodion, an ancient hilltop fortress that is thought to be the final resting place of Herod the Great, was occupied in 1967. Excavations were undertaken in 1972, and in 1980 the Israeli Nature and National Parks Protection Authority declared the site a reserve. Since that time, the Herodion has been essentially an annexed tourism site, complete with military outpost. Settler roads, one via Gush Etzion, connect the site to Jerusalem.
The maintenance of Occupation control over Bethlehem goes hand in hand with the development of tourist infrastructure in the settlements surrounding Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Plans for Maâale Adumim expansion include the construction of hotels. Another hotel is planned for Gilo, while in Givat Hamatos, nine hotels are planned that will lie opposite the Mar Elias monastery.