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Gov’t upgrading, preserving some 300 historic sites
By HERB KEINON
01/14/2013
Cabinet secretary Hauser announces plan to invest NIS 700 million into developing Jewish, Zionist historical sites.
 
Three years after a cabinet decision to invest hundreds of millions of shekels to preserve and upgrade significant Jewish and Zionist historical sites sparked angry protest from the Palestinian Authority because a number of the sites were over the Green Line, some 296 projects are being developed, cabinet secretary Zvi Hauser said Monday.

Preserving important historical sites is important in every country, and even more so in Israel because of the significant challenges the country faces and the need for the society to understand “where we came from and where we are going,” Hauser said at a press briefing.

“We are obligated to take what we received from our parents and grandparents, and pass that on to our children and grandchildren – the same cultural heritage we were passed,” he said, adding that “we did not come here without any past, or any context.”

Of the 296 projects in the NIS 700 million program, 13 percent deal with the biblical period; 16% with the Second Temple and Talmudic times; 12% with the Old Yishuv period, 18% with early waves of immigration; 15% with later waves of immigration; and 26% with the beginning of the state. Nine of 80 major projects are located in Judea and Samaria, and 16 others are in Jerusalem.

Among those projects that drew Palestinian ire three years ago were initiatives in the capital’s City of David, the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, Tel Shilo, Sussiya and the Herodian archeological site near Bethlehem. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas warned at the time that the program would spark a “religious war” and “third intifada.”

Hauser said another project is in the works as part of the program – using a separate budget – that will involve an Einstein Museum on Hebrew University’s Mount Scopus campus, to house the writings Albert Einstein bequeathed to the university.

In addition to large projects like the upgrade of Independence Hall in Tel Aviv and the restoration of the Montefiore Windmill in Jerusalem, the program is giving money to some 100 smaller projects around the country to upgrade them and make them more accessible to the public. These projects include Ben-Gurion’s hut in Sde Boker, Haifa’s city museum, the aliya museum in Zichron Ya’acov and the old Turkish train station at Elroi, near Yokne’am.
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