Fayyad calls Cave of Patriarchs "inseparable part of Palestinian territories."
By JPOST.COM STAFF, AP
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad visited Hebron onFriday and prayed at the Cave of the Patriarchs on Friday afternoon,criticizing Israel's decision to add the site and Rachel'sTomb in Bethlehem to the list of Jewish heritage sites marked forrenovation andpreservation.Speaking to reporters after prayers, Fayyadaccused Israel of "annexing" the Cave of the Patriarchs."[Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu's decision is dangerous and political in nature. The site is an inseparable part of the occupiedPalestinian territories," Channel 10 quoted Fayyad as saying."This is the main reason we oppose the Israeli government'sdecision," Fayyad reportedly said.Meanwhile,a violent demonstration by dozens of Palestinian protesters in Hebronagainst the heritage list decision ended on Friday evening. Theprotesters hurled rocks at IDF troops and Border Policeforces near the Jewish quarter in the city, and security forces wereusing non-lethal weapons to disperse the rioters. One protester wasarrested, Army Radio reported.Forcesin Hebron had been on heightened alert, preparing for the possibilityof continued rioting in the city. Officials were concerned thatviolence would escalate following sermons during Friday prayers in thecity’s mosques.AdvertisementTwo Palestinian protesters were reportedlyinjured in clashes on Thursday, a day after the Obama administrationsharply criticized Israel for its move.According to Palestinianreports, four demonstrators were also arrested in the violence justmeters from the cave, where dozens of youths threw rocks at BorderPolice and IDF soldiers.The security forces fired tear gas cannisters to disperse the protesters, who had gathered to protest the Israeli decision.Thegovernment's move, announced Sunday, has drawn wide criticism,including from the United Nations. US State Department spokesman MarkToner said the administration viewed the move as provocative andunhelpful to the goal of getting the two sides back to the table.Toner said US displeasure with the designations of the Cave of thePatriarchs in the flash point town of Hebron and the traditional tombof the biblical matriarch Rachel in Bethlehem had been conveyed tosenior Israeli officials by American diplomats.Netanyahu has attempted to calm the spirits, saying there isno intention to change the status quo at the worship sites. Freedom ofworship would be maintained, he said, and the purpose of the decisionwas to allow renovation and maintain the current status.
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