(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud) plans to light the first Hanukka candle at
the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron on Wednesday evening.
which is partially sponsored by the Knesset’s Land of Israel Caucus, is part of
a plan to bring MKs to various places of historic significance in the West Bank
during the holiday, caucus chairman MK Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) said.
Jewish community spokesman David Wilder said Rivlin’s intended visit makes an
important statement about the Jewish significance of Hebron, at a time when the
international community was trying to deny the city’s Jewish roots.
think his presence represents the feeling of this government and the State of
Israel that Hebron is a living part of our national heritage,” he said. “I think
it is very significant that he is going to be lighting a candle on the first
night of Hanukka [in the Cave of the Patriarchs].”
He added that the
holiday which commemorated the victory of the Jewish people against a much
stronger power, speaks to the situation today, as Israel tries to withstand
pressure from the United States, one of the most powerful countries in the
Rivlin is heading to the Cave of the Patriarchs a month after the
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization angered Israel
by declaring that the site was an “integral part” of the “occupied” Palestinian
The trip also comes in the midst of a battle by right-wing
politicians and settlers to prevent Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu from
caving to US pressure to impose a new 90-day settlement construction
When the possibility of such a freeze in return for certain
American guarantees was first raised close to two weeks ago, its opponents
immediately mounted a stiff campaign against it, even as they doubted that the
US would agree to put its guarantees in writing.
Indeed, as days have
passed without the US proffering such a document, settlers have come to believe
that the idea of a freeze is frozen.
Last Thursday, the Council of Jewish
Communities in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip took down a protest tent in
front of the Prime Minister’s Office, which they had set up only three days
Council head Dani Dayan said that the political situation would
be reassessed over the weekend, and that the tent could be built again if the
But settlers are hardly sitting idly by as they wait
to see what happens with the freeze. On Sunday, the council organized a
letter-writing campaign in which all schoolchildren in Judea and Samaria will pen
messages to Netanyahu asking him not to freeze new construction in those
“This government should have rejected unconditionally the notion
of an additional moratorium. However, given the present situation it is
important that a solid consensus has emerged in the government, that seems to
include the prime minister and his closest allies, that requires a positive
commitment by the US that this is the last one [freeze],” Dayan
That consensus, he said, has also concluded that the freeze should
not include east Jerusalem and that when negotiations with the Palestinians are
resumed, it would include all the core issues, and not just focus on borders.