The Hezkiyahu neighborhood in Hebron, where the new construction will be..
(photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
Right-wing politicians called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to oust Hebron’s international observers, as they held a Knesset event in Jerusalem support of the West Bank city’s small Jewish community.
“We don’t need a foreign force in the city of our forefathers,” Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said to those who crowded into the small meeting room in the Knesset on Monday.
Netanyahu promised to make a decision on the matter in December, Hotovely reminded those who attended the meeting organized by the Knesset Land of Israel Caucus.
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked added that Netanyahu didn’t need the Knesset to make such a decision, he could do so by a government vote.
The caucus held the meeting as a show of strength in support of Hebron in advance of an event later this month that would be hosted by left-wing politicians calling for the government to expel the 1,000 Jews who live in the city of more than 220,000 Palestinians.
But many politicians used the opportunity to also call on Netanyahu to end the mandate that allows the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) to operate in the section of the West Bank city that is under Israeli control.
The civilian observer force TIPH has 13 local staff and 64 members who come from give contributing countries: Italy, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey.
They are tasked with monitoring compliance with the 1997 agreement that split the city, handing 80% of it to the Palestinian Authority and maintaining 20% under Israeli control. It produces reports and patrols the city to give Palestinians a sense of security.
But residents of the city and right-wing politicians believe that its presence emboldens Palestinians to act violently against Jewish residents of the city.
Over the summer, opponents of TIPH published a video that showed a staff member slashing a tire of Jew’s vehicle in Hebron.
Caucus co-chair MK Yoav Kisch said, “I have a tip for TIPH; go home!”
“Hebron is at the heart of the Jewish people. It is an inseparable part of the Land of Israel and the nation of Israel,” Kisch said. “We will continue to strengthen sovereignty, especially in the place where our forefathers and foremothers are buried. We have an obligation to strengthen the Jewish people’s roots in this place.”
The parliament considers the city’s Jewish residents as its emissaries, he said.
Caucus co-chair Bezalel Smotrich said that Hebron was the “litmus” test for the Jewish pulse.
If opponents of the Jewish community in Hebron had its way, the city would be Judenrein, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said, deliberately using the word that Nazis had used to ethnically cleanse Jews from an area.
If there isn’t coexistence in Hebron, it won’t happen elsewhere, Edelstein said.
MK Sharren Haskel said that the battle for Hebron was a critical part of the battle for Judea and Samaria. If Israel couldn’t hold onto the biblical city, then what is the argument for the rest of the territory, she asked.
“We are in the middle of a war. If we as Jews give up on one of the two holiest sites to us, what is the significance of Amona or Kiryat Arba,” she said.
If Hebron falls, the rest of the area will soon follow, Haskel said.
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