Ayalon: We’ll bring Israeli diplomats to Hebron

Following plan to bring students to Cave of Patriarchs, Deputy FM says "cave was, is and will be a Jewish site under Israeli sovereignty.”

Danny Ayalon 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Danny Ayalon 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon (Israel Beiteinu) on Wednesday became the second prominent politician this month to announce a plan to strengthen the nation’s ties to the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron.
He told the Knesset he was launching an educational program to bring Foreign Ministry cadets and Israeli ambassadors preparing for placements abroad to visit the cave, as well as other heritage sites.
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“The cave was, is and will be a Jewish site under Israeli sovereignty,” Ayalon said.
It is an essential element of Israeli public relations that “we are here by right, and not by force,” he said.
Just last week, Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar (Likud) announced a new plan to bring Israeli pupils on field trips to Hebron and the cave.
The Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip immediately welcomed Ayalon’s statement.
“It’s an important step on the path to returning a Jewish and Zionist stance to Israel’s foreign policy,’ said council head Dani Dayan.
It’s time Israeli diplomats spoke the truth in a clear voice – that Judea and Samaria in general, and Hebron in particular, are part of the Jewish nation’s heritage, Dayan said.
Peace Now executive director Yariv Oppenheimer attacked the move, charging that “Ayalon is trying to turn the Foreign Ministry into a public relations branch of Yesha [the settlers council].”
Hours later, parliamentarians debated Sa’ar’s plan in the Knesset. MK Dov Henin (Hadash) accused Ayalon of trying to erase the Green Line and, with it, any chance of peace and/or the possibility of an agreement with the Palestinians.
“Are you arguing that we do not have property rights in Hebron?” asked MK Ronit Tirosh (Kadima).
“Don’t lecture me, I have family that came from the Hebron’s old [Jewish] settlement,” Henin said.
Of course the cave is a holy site, and when there is peace, Israelis and Jews can visit it, just like other holy places, he said; but what pupils will learn now if they go is the price of occupation because they will see the empty Palestinian streets and stalls, and the extremism of the settlers.
But Sa’ar stressed the impossibility of teaching Jewish history without talking about Hebron, adding that he was sure demand for the tours would be high.