In protest of nat'l heritage decision, PA moves cabinet meeting to Hebron.
By TOVAH LAZAROFF, HERB KEINON
The Palestinian Authority on Monday called on the internationalcommunity to stop Israel from placing the Cave of the Patriarchs inHebron and Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem on its list of national heritagesties.To protest the inclusion of the West Bank sites the PAbelieves will one day be part of its future state, it moved its weeklycabinet meeting from Ramallah to Hebron on Monday.In a statement that it released after its meeting, the PA said that this decision was against international law."Thesesites are an inseparable part of Palestinian land which has beenoccupied since 1967. The PA has turned to all the international bodiesto demand that it oppose Israel's decision and cause its abolishment,"said the PA.The PA also spoke of its opposition to Israeliactions in east Jerusalem, including its construction of Jewish homesand demolition of Palestinian homes there as well as the steps it tookSunday to quell Palestinian rioters on the Temple Mount.It also turned to the European Union to ask that it help stop Jewish construction in east Jerusalem.On Monday the EU said that Israel was harming the peace process.AdvertisementAspokesman for Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign policy chief said in a statementthat she regarded the addition of the Cave of the Patriarchs andRachel's Tomb "as detrimental to the attempts to re-launch peacenegotiations. The EU calls on Israel to refrain from provocative acts."Sincethe sites were placed on the list on February 21, Palestinians haveclashed with the IDF in Hebron. Clashes were more intense for the firstfive days, and since then have dwindled down to small incidents of rockthrowing.According to AP, a group of settler youths, some as young as 4 years old, threw rocks and cursed at Palestinians.PalestinianAuthority President Mahmoud Abbas has warned that placing West Banksites on the heritage list could lead to a religious war.But Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad told AP, "We are not goingto be drawn into a cycle of violence. We are fully determined, and wecount on our people understanding fully well that the best response tothis ... is to stay focused" on state-building.The cave wherethe biblical forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are buried is sacredto both Jews and Muslims, both of whom pray in separate sections of thecomplex.Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Senate's ForeignAffairs Committee, said he hoped the present tension over Rachel'sTomb and the Tomb of the Patriarchs was just a "rough moment, a hiccup"that could be overcome on the way to renewing Israeli-Palestiniannegotiations.Kerry, at a Jerusalem press conference on Monday, saidthat access to the sites -- which he said were important to Jewish andMoslem understanding of their "history, culture and religions" -- wasshared.Saying that he thought what Netanyahu did was"understandable" within the context of trying to "preserve and renew"the Jewish components of the sites, Kerry added that "the timing andmanner of the announcement needs to be taken into account in the futurecontext of trying to move people to dialogue."Kerry said thatthe move "certainly lends itself to misinterpretation without adequateexplanation, and I think there is an explanation, and I think you haveto be carful with these things. My caution as we go forward is we haveto be thoughtful about everything we say and do so we keep a dialogueon track."
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