W. Bank Jewish heritage site to get NIS 15m. fix

Tel Shiloh one of 13 sites to be renovated; right-wing MKs angry Cave of Patriarchs, Rachel's Tomb won't get funding.

February 14, 2012 15:49
2 minute read.
view of Hebron

view of Hebron_311. (photo credit: David Wilder, the Jewish Community of Hebron)


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The West Bank Jewish Heritage site Tel Shiloh will be renovated with NIS 5 million in government funds and another NIS 10 million from private donations.

The Ministerial Committee for National Heritage sites approved the funding as part of a package of NIS 72 million that it distributed Tuesday morning to 13 such sites throughout the country.

In Biblical times the Ark of the Covenant was housed at Tel Shiloh, which is now an archeological site, located near the Shiloh settlement.

Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On attacked the decision to fund Tel Shiloh.

Netanyahu's "extreme right wing government is isolating Israel from the international community," she said.

But rather than welcome the move, right-wing parliamentarians and settler leaders said they were angered that the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem were not included in the funding list of 13 sites.

MK Arye Eldad (National Union), who along with MK Ze'ev Elkin (Likud) heads the Land for Israel lobby group in the Knesset, said that the absence of these two sites from the critical funding list was tantamount to their removal from the National Heritage program.

He added that it was yet one more action by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's government against the settlement enterprise in Judea and Samaria.

"Those who forget their past won't have a future," he warned.

Sources in the Prime Minister's Office said that both sites remain on the list, but did not meet the criteria for critical funding. While the Cave of the Patriarchs needs handicap access and roof repairs, the Civil Administration is weighing these repairs, the sources said.

Rachel's Tomb has recently undergone a renovation, sources in the Prime Minister's Office said.

They added that both sites remain on the National Heritage list.

Hebron spokesman David Wilder said he had investigated the matter and was assured that the Cave of the Patriarchs and Rachel's Tomb were on the list.

But he said that he too was upset that the Cave of the Patriarchs did not receive funding.

“The situation is very desperate,” he said, and added that the main sanctuary for prayer at the cave lacks a permanent roof.

He was skeptical of the belief by those in the Prime Minister’s Office that the Civil Administration would provide funds for the repairs to the cave.

“I am sure that [Defense Minister] Ehud Barak is not going to help Hebron,” Wilder said.

MK Michael Ben Ari (National Union) said that in light of his actions, Netanyahu might as well be a member of the left wing Meretz party.

"Who needs Zahav Gal-On when you have Bibi. He talks tough, but his actions are weak,” he said.

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