(photo credit: Courtesy )
A Palestinian official on Wednesday expressed doubts regarding an Israeli archeologist's announcement that he had found the tomb of King Herod, the legendary builder of ancient Jerusalem and the Holy Land.
The tomb was found by archeologist Ehud Netzer, a Hebrew University professor who has been working at Herodion, a flattened hilltop in the Judean Desert, since 1972.
The tomb was in a previously unexplored area between the two palaces Herod built on the site. Herod built a palace on the hill, and researchers discovered his burial site there.
But the Palestinian Authority Tourism Ministry said there was not enough evidence to support the archeologist's claim.
"There's nothing unusual about the latest discovery, which is no different from previous ones," a senior official in the ministry said.
The official claimed that the discovery was lacking in "scientific credibility" and showed that there were ideological motives behind the dramatic announcement earlier this week.
"We warn Israel against using this purported discovery for political and ideological purposes," the official added. "The Israeli announcement is part of a fierce Israeli settlement offensive in the Bethlehem area."
According to the official, archeological sites in the West Bank belong only to the Palestinians and are part of their cultural, historical and spiritual heritage. He said Israeli excavation work in the West Bank was being carried out in violation of international laws.
"The Israeli archeological digs are also in violation of the agreements signed between the Palestinians and Israel and don't serve the cause of peace between the two people," the official said.