Shalom: Joseph’s Tomb should be heritage site

Vice premier says putting Tomb on list of national heritage sites would make an important statement about Israel’s past and its future.

Silvan Shalom 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Silvan Shalom 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The tomb of the biblical Joseph in Nablus should be added to Israel’s list of protected heritage sites, Vice Premier Silvan Shalom wrote in a letter to cabinet secretary Zvi Hauser on Sunday.
Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat’s nephew, Ben- Yosef Livnat, was shot to death by Palestinian Authority policemen on his way back from praying at the site on April 24.
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The grave was maintained under Israeli jurisdiction in the 1993 Oslo Accord. On October 7, 2000, six days after border policeman Cpl. Madhat Yusef, 19, of Beit Jann was killed there, the tomb was handed over to the PA police.
Within hours Palestinians ransacked the structure, smashing the dome with pickaxes and setting the compound on fire. It was since rebuilt.
Shalom said putting Joseph’s Tomb on the list of national heritage sites would make an important statement about Israel’s past and its future.
“Joseph’s Tomb is a cornerstone of the Jewish presence in Israel,” the minister wrote.
“As a nation loyal to its heritage and its history, we are obligated to add Joseph’s Tomb to the list of national heritage sites, as was done more than a year ago with Rachel’s Tomb [at the entrance to Bethlehem] and the Cave of the Patriarchs [in Hebron],” where Abraham, Sara, Rebecca, Isaac, Jacob and Leah are buried, according to tradition.
At a meeting of Likud ministers on Sunday morning, Shalom praised his party rival, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, for immediately ruling out talks with Hamas when Fatah announced that it had reached an agreement with the terrorist group.
Shalom told the ministers that he believed PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas each made the deal for internal political reasons.
He said Abbas did not want credit for the creation of a Palestinian state to go to PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad of the Third Way Party, who will have to step down due to the deal, and Hamas did not want Fatah alone to deliver a Palestinian state.
A former foreign minister, Shalom said it was important to tell the world that it would be wrong to declare a Palestinian state at the UN General Assembly in September, just four months ahead of PA elections set for January 2012.
“We should tell them to wait until the Palestinian election to make sure Hamas does not win,” Shalom told the ministers. “They wouldn’t want to create an Iranian satellite state in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip.”