Clashes in Hebron over heritage list

PA official calls Israeli decision ‘very dangerous.’

palestinian molotov 311 (photo credit: AP)
palestinian molotov 311
(photo credit: AP)
Palestinians threw rocks and bottles at IDF soldiers in Hebron Mondayin response to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s inclusion the daybefore of the Cave of the Patriarchs in the city to the government’slist of national heritage sites.
The move also drew sharp protest from the Palestinian Authority, itschief negotiator Saeb Erekat as well as the United Nations SpecialCoordinator for the Middle East Process Robert H. Serry.
Palestinians believe that Hebron, as well as Rachel’s Tomb inBethlehem, which was also added to the list at the last moment, areareas of the West Bank that will be part of their state.
Settlers in turn have argued that these are two of the most ancient andhistoric Jewish sites and that politics should not be a considerationin marking them for preservation.
PA spokesman Ghassan Khatib, however, warned that the inclusion of thesites on the list could take the Israel-Palestinian conflict in adangerous direction.
“We believe that this particular violation is very dangerous because itmight add to the religious nature of the conflict,” Khatib said.
In the Israeli area of Hebron on Monday Palestinians closed their shopsand sporadically pelted soldiers with rocket and bottles. They alsoburned tires.
Soldiers responded with tear gas and stun grenades. The Army said noinjuries among soldiers were reported. Palestinians said threeprotesters suffered from tear gas inhalation.
By midday, the incident was over, the IDF said.
Hebron’s Jewish community, Noam Arnon, posted a video on its Web site,which stated that “the tombs of the patriarchs and the matriarchs are ahistorical site beginning in the time of the bible and Abraham some4,000 years [ago]. From then on, this is the first Jewish site in theworld. The building above the cave was built here 2,000 years ago inthe time of the Kingdom of Judea, hundreds of years before Islamexisted.”
On Monday, however, Erekat said that the “unilateral decision to makePalestinian sites in Hebron and Bethlehem part of Israel shows there isno genuine partner for peace, but an occupying power intent onconsolidating Palestinian lands.”
Serry said that “these sites are in occupied Palestinian territory andare of historical and religious significance not only to Judaism butalso to Islam, and to Christianity as well. I urge Israel not to takeany steps on the ground which undermine trust or could prejudicenegotiations, the resumption of which should be the highest sharedpriority of all who seek peace.”
He added that he “would like to see more positive steps by Israel toenable Palestinian development and state-building in the area andthroughout the West Bank, reflecting a genuine commitment to the twoState solution.”
AP contributed to this report.