35 MKs demand Joseph's Tomb be reopened

Thirty-five MKs, including members of Kadima, Gil (Pensioners Party), Likud, Israel Beiteinu, United Torah Judaism and Shas, sent a letter to OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh asking to open Joseph's Tomb to Jewish visitors for prayer. MK Uri Ariel (National Union-National Religious Party) is spearheading the parliamentarians' effort to renew the visits. All members of Ariel's party signed the letter to Naveh. The tomb, located inside Nablus, was abandoned in September 2000 at the beginning of the second intifada at the behest of then prime minister Ehud Barak. Palestinians destroyed the Torah scroll, holy books and other Judaica on the premises. In May 2002, as part of Operation Defense Shield, the tomb was recaptured, and shortly afterwards in response to numerous requests the IDF renewed guarded tours of the tomb. One day every month at midnight as many as 800 visitors were allowed to pray at the gravesite. These visits were designed to prevent unauthorized and unprotected clandestine visits, mainly by Breslav Hassidim. However, for the last three years due to security concerns, Naveh discontinued the visits to the tomb. Signatories include MK Moshe Sharoni, chairman of the Pensioners Party, presidential candidate MK Reuven Rivlin (Likud), all members of United Torah Judaism except Ya'acov Litzman and five members of Shas.