Nix East Jerusalem-based TV Series, Palestinian Official Urges NBC

Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi says planned archaeological thriller to be filmed in City of David legitimizes 'the annexation of Jerusalem.'

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Senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi has called on American television network NBC to halt the production of an upcoming series to be filmed in East Jerusalem, Ma'an news agency reported on Tuesday.

The archaeological thriller, titled "Dig," is being jointly created by Gideon Raff – the Israeli “Homeland” creator – and Tim Kring, the man behind the TV show "Heroes." The series is being produced for the USA Network, a subsidiary of NBC, by Israeli production company Keshet and BermanBraun, a media company headed by Gail Berman and Lloyd Braun.

The show, consisting of six episodes scheduled to be aired in 2014, revolves around an FBI agent investigating the murder of an American archaeologist in Jerusalem, and is set in the City of David, a major archaeological site in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan.

"Such a production will legitimize the annexation of Jerusalem and the destruction of the authenticity and character of the occupied city," Ma'an news agency quoted Ashrawi as saying.

"Any business or organization that deals with Israel in Occupied Palestine is in flagrant breach of international law, conventions, and consensus, respectively."

Both Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett have praised the project, lauded in Israel as the first American television series to be shot entirely in the country. “The new series is a significant milestone on the road as Jerusalem becomes an attractive location for international productions. Jerusalem’s rich history attracts series and films with great stories to tell,” said Barkat.

“The series will help brand Jerusalem as an international tourism destination,” added Bennett.

Ashrawi said the series was part of Israeli efforts to "annex and ethnically cleanse Jerusalem."

"The choice to film the series in Palestinian neighborhoods in Jerusalem is designed to endorse the occupation and the bitter reality experienced by Palestinian Jerusalemites," Ma'an news agency quoted Ashrawi as saying.

View of Silwan from City of David.Credit: Moshe Gilad

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