Israel's ancient Solomon's Pools from time of Jesus to be restored

Solomon's Pools near Bethlehem in the West BankWikimedia Commons

Three ancient pools that provided water to Jerusalem around the time of Jesus are to be restored under a $750,000 renovation funded by the US and announced yesterday, AFP reported.

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

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

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

Since 1993, at least six people have drowned in the pools, which are not monitored, according to the IPS.

Now, 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.

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

The grant comes as the administration of the US President Donald Trump is attempting to kick-start the dormant, so-called 'peace process' 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.

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