The Palestinian Cabinet moved its weekly meeting to Hebron on Monday in a symbolic act against Israel's addition of a contested shrine in this volatile West Bank city to its list of national heritage sites.
Israelis and Palestinians have clashed frequently in the past over the two shrines added to the heritage list, the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas portrayed Israel's move as an "attack on the holy places," and his Islamic militant Hamas rivals in Gaza called for a new uprising.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has tried to calm the recent
tensions, saying that Israel's plan was to protect the holy sites and
had no intention of infringing on Muslim freedom of worship. A
Netanyahu aide said the list is not meant to delineate future borders,
and that it's premature to talk about concrete renovation plans.
Friday, in another solidarity gesture, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad prayed at the Ibrahimi
Mosque, which is part of the Cave of the Patriarch’s complex.
five consecutive days last week, from Monday to Friday, Palestinians
threw stones and clashed with Israeli soldiers in protest. Palestinians
believe that the cave is part of their future state.
argued that the Cave of the Patriarchs, where the Jewish forefathers
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are buried, is one of the most sacred sites
and should be marked for preservation and restoration.
point here,” argued Khatib, “is that no matter whether historical sites
have religious connotations to Muslims, Christians or Jews, as long as
it is in the Palestinian Territories it has to be the responsibility of
Similarly, he said, Palestinian sites within
the pre-1967 armistice line are supposed to be Israel’s responsibility
and each side has to allow free access.
On Sunday, rain fell in Hebron but did not wash out the festivities as Jews celebrated the Purim holiday.
In a few isolated incidents Palestinians threw stones at soldiers.