Lawmakers visit Joseph’s Tomb 1st time in over decade

MKs have daytime visit at tomb for first time since 2000; Danny Danon: "Those who give up on [tomb], give up on our right to the country.”

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June 15, 2011 03:47
3 minute read.

Josephs Tomb 311. (photo credit: Tovah Lazaroff)

 
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Eight MKs entered Nablus on Tuesday morning to visit Joseph’s Tomb and to call on the government to reinstate Israeli sovereignty over the structure.

It is the first time since October 2000 that Israelis have been allowed to visit the tomb in the daytime. It is located in Area A of the West Bank, which is under full Palestinian Authority control.

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However, according to the 1995 “Oslo II” agreement, the PA is “to ensure free, unimpeded and secure access to the relevant Jewish holy sites” in the areas under its control.

At present the IDF has only allowed Jewish worshipers monthly midnight visits.

“We are not giving up on the tomb,” MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) said at a press conference immediately after the visit by the parliamentarians, who are members of the Land of Israel Lobby in the Knesset.

“We returned today from the tomb, ashamed, but also determined to return as masters of the house,” MK Danny Danon (Likud) said.

“Today we started the process of returning the tomb to Israeli control. Joseph's Tomb has to be open to the Israeli public during the day,” MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) said.

Danon added that it was in this area, that God promised Abraham the Land of Israel.

The tomb, which is located where the biblical city of Shechem once stood, “symbolizes are right to the Land of Israel. Those who give up on the area, give up on our right to the country,” Danon said.

Gershon Mesika, head of the Samaria Regional Council, said that even the Oslo Accord had guaranteed Israel sovereignty over the tomb.

MK Arye Eldad (National Union) added, “We wanted the Arabs to understand that there can not be a place in Israel that Jews can not enter. We will rule over this land and we will return to every place within it.”

Unfurling a document, he said that while they were in the tomb, they had signed a declaration stating that Jews had the right to settle anywhere in Israel, including in Judea and Samaria.

Danon told The Jerusalem Post after the press conference that he had mixed feelings about the visit.

“On one hand it was a very emotional spiritual visit in daylight – I went many times, but during the night. On the other hand, to see the police forces of the PA guarding us, it was not the feeling that we wanted to feel,” he said.

Danon could not help thinking of Ben-Yosef Livnat.

A PA policeman in Nablus killed Livnat, 25, on April 24 after he entered the city illegally to pray at the tomb.

IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.- Gen. Benny Gantz later said that the Palestinian policemen had deliberately opened fire on a Livnat and those who were with him. The Defense Ministry recognized Livnat as a victim of terrorism.

“We know that those policemen, some of them are terrorist,” Danon said on Tuesday. Only a few weeks ago, the [PA] policemen murdered one of the worshipers at the tomb, Ben- Yosef Livnat,” Danon said.

Dani Dayan, chairman of the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, said he believed Palestinians had killed Livnat to deter Jews from visiting the tomb.

“It only makes us only more determined and our resolution more clear to double our efforts to regain our sovereignty over Joseph's Tomb,” Dayan said.

He added that he hoped that Tuesday parliamentary visit would be followed by trips by ministers, the speaker of the Knesset, other dignitaries and ultimately every Jew.

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