cave of patriarchs 224.88.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
“The prime minister must say ‘no!’ to Barack Hussein Obama and ‘yes!’ to the nation of Israel,” Deputy Negev and Galilee Development Minister Ayoub Kara (Likud) told thousands of visitors who gathered in Hebron on Thursday.
A number of speakers addressed the holiday crowd, as part of a ceremony held by the Jewish community of Hebron to thank the government for adding the Cave of the Patriarchs to the national heritage list. At the ceremony, MKs who had pressured the ministers to vote for February’s cabinet decision were given certificates of thanks.
Palestinians and the international community protested the cabinet decision because they want the cave, which they call the Ibrahimi Mosque, and the entire West Bank city, as part of a Palestinian state.
Hebron’s Jewish community, settler leaders and MKs used the platform provided by the annual Pessah pilgrimage to the site to send a message to US President Obama and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that the Jewish people did not intend to abandon Jerusalem or Judea and Samaria.
“The masses that came here today is the guarantee and the proof that no one will move us from this cave, not even Hussein Obama,” Kara said.
He and the other lawmakers who spoke urged Netanyahu not to cave in to American pressure to stop Jewish construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
“We have to authorize renewed building everywhere in the land,” said Kara, who is Druse.
“We, the descendents of Jethro, preserved the land for the nation of Israel when it was in the Diaspora. We will continue to watch over it together with them, today as well,” he said.
Dani Dayan, chairman of the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, said that the placement of the cave on the national heritage site list was not just a statement of values, but empowered Israel diplomatically.
“Only the connection to the roots of the Jewish nation gives one the power to resist foreign pressure and to stand up for our right to this land,” said Dayan. “On the basis of this connection, can we say to those who are trying to subdue us: No more!”
MK Arye Eldad (National Union), who heads the Knesset Caucus for Greater Israel, noted that the group had 40 members, which is one-third of the legislature.
Getting the cave on the national heritage list “represents the lobby’s first victory,” he said.
Those who did not understand five years ago that the Jewish settlements in Gaza protected Tel Aviv, should understand today that a Jewish presence in Hebron protects Israel’s right to all of Jerusalem, Eldad said.
MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) said it was offensive to compare Tel Aviv with Jerusalem.
“We love Tel Aviv, but it’s 101 years old, whereas Jerusalem is 3,000 years old and Hebron is 4,000 years old,” she said.
“On the holiday when we went out from slavery to freedom, we have to know how to safeguard that freedom, and not allow anyone else to dictate how much and where to build,” Hotovely said.
MK Otniel Schneller (Kadima) said he was happy to see the masses that had come out to Hebron, but that it was not enough.
Those who did not come also have to develop a connection to this city, he said. “Hebron has to become everyone’s domain.”
A State Department official said in response to a press query about the day’s events in Hebron: “We continue to urge all parties to act responsibly and do whatever is necessary to maintain calm. We continue to ask both parties to refrain from taking actions that undermine trust and efforts to resume negotiations that will bring an end to the conflict and result in a two-state solution.”
Hebron’s Jewish community estimates that more than 20,000 people visited the city and the cave throughout the day.
One bus took a wrong turn and entered an area of the city that is under the control of the Palestinian Authority. Before it could correct the mistake, Palestinian teens threw stones at the bus and broke its windows.
One upset passenger told the media that they had ducked onto the floor in fright. A few passengers were treated for shock and one woman was lightly wounded.
Hilary Leila Krieger contributed to this report.