Shalom visits Hebron's Cave of Patriarchs

Shalom visits Hebrons C

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's nemesis, Vice Premier Silvan Shalom, continued his recent shift to the Right on Monday when he visited the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. Shalom was received warmly in Hebron, where Netanyahu withdrew IDF forces from most of the city when he was prime minister in 1997. In what was interpreted as an attack on Netanyahu, Shalom said he believed the settlements around Hebron were a bloc that must permanently remain under Israeli control. He also criticized the government's handling of the ongoing Arab violence in Jerusalem. He said it was intolerable that even though the Temple Mount was under Israeli control, Israeli forces had to constantly work to protect Jews in the area. "I have gone up to the Temple Mount in the past, and Jews have a right to go there," Shalom told a large crowd at the Cave of the Patriarchs. "The events at the Temple Mount today must serve as a wake-up call for everyone. We are the sovereign over the Temple Mount and the Cave of the Patriarchs and that's what the government of Israel must broadcast. We are here forever and ever," he said. Shalom also visited settlements outside Hebron, including Yatir and Sussiya. He promised to assist in upgrading the tourist site at Sussiya. The vice premier was unaffected by a rock-throwing incident that damaged an Israeli bus outside the Arab city of Halhoul near Hebron. Shalom's office said he took the same tour last year and he was not trying to make a political statement. They said the areas around Hebron were part of the Negev and therefore in his jurisdiction as minister of Negev and Galilee development.