Jews are forbidden from visiting the ancient King Solomon’s Pools on the outskirts of Jerusalem because the Palestinian Authority does not allow free access to Jews. An Israeli organization has contacted US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman requesting US assistance in allowing Jews to visit this ancient Jewish site. The USA is currently funding the renovation project of these ancient pools and hence should have a say to right this unjust situation.

King Solomon’s Pools

King Solomon’s Pools are three ancient reservoirs located in the Judean Hills, immediately to the south of the Arab village of al-Khader, about 3.1 miles southwest of Bethlehem. The pools were the main water aquifers that stored rain waters that fell in the Judean hills. These pools were the main water aquifers for the residents of Jerusalem.

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.

These pools were supposed to remain under Israeli control, according to the Oslo accords, but because of some mistake of a pen mark on the map they ended up under Palestinian Authority control instead. Hence, Jews and Israelis are not allowed to freely visit or hike there, as we should be allowed.

Before the Oslo accords were signed the King Solomon’s Pools was an attractive hiking spot for Jewish hikers. I personally visited there a number of times, but since the Oslo signing in 1993 I haven’t been able to visit.

Now that the US government is providing funding towards the renovation of this ancients site, an Israeli organization called Amitim L’tiul (a hiking organization) thought it appropriate to request US intervention to condition their funding on having Jews allowed free access to this ancient Jewish site, as we should be allowed.

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.”