(photo credit: Sasson Tiram)
Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar announced a new program on Tuesday through which
thousands of school pupils would visit the West Bank city of Hebron and the Cave
of the Patriarchs every year.
A pilot for the program would start next
year, he told Jewish residents of Hebron and the nearby settlement of Kiryat
Arba during a visit to both places on Tuesday.
The program, to be called
“Let’s Go Up to Hebron,” would be run and funded by his ministry and is similar
to one that already exists for Jerusalem, he said.
Sa’ar recalled how,
when he was cabinet secretary under Ariel Sharon, the former prime minister had
said the state had to ensure that every pupil, soldier and ambassador visited
the Cave of the Patriarchs so they would “recognize the roots from which it all
Kiryat Arba Council head Malachi Levinger said, “We’re talking
about a historic decision that will expose, for the first time, thousands of
students to the Jewish heritage in the city of their forefathers.”
also promised to advocate for funds to renovate the holy site so worshipers
could comfortably pray there. At present, there is no permanent roof over the
prayer area, which is protected from the elements only by a plastic covering
that lets in the rain and the wind.
“The situation is intolerable,” Sa’ar
During his West Bank tour, he also visited the settlement of
He called for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to lift his
“silent freeze” of the larger West Bank Jewish communities and to authorize new
construction in Efrat, Ariel, Ma’aleh Adumim and Betar Illit.
communities have no permits and cannot continue to build without new
authorization from the government.
Sa’ar said it was “absurd” that new
homes could be built in small settlements, but not in these larger
Ben Hartman contributed to this report.