Palestinian Cabinet meeting in Hebron

Move aimed at protesting Israel's addition of shrine to list of heritage sites.

fayyad 311 (photo credit: AP)
fayyad 311
(photo credit: AP)
The Palestinian Cabinet moved its weekly meeting to Hebron on Monday in a symbolic act against Israel's addition of a contested shrine in this volatile West Bank city to its list of national heritage sites.
Israelis and Palestinians have clashed frequently in the past over the two shrines added to the heritage list, the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas portrayed Israel's move as an "attack on the holy places," and his Islamic militant Hamas rivals in Gaza called for a new uprising.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has tried to calm the recenttensions, saying that Israel's plan was to protect the holy sites andhad no intention of infringing on Muslim freedom of worship. ANetanyahu aide said the list is not meant to delineate future borders,and that it's premature to talk about concrete renovation plans.
OnFriday, in another solidarity gesture, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad prayed at the IbrahimiMosque, which is part of the Cave of the Patriarch’s complex.
Forfive consecutive days last week, from Monday to Friday, Palestiniansthrew stones and clashed with Israeli soldiers in protest. Palestiniansbelieve that the cave is part of their future state.
Israel hasargued that the Cave of the Patriarchs, where the Jewish forefathersAbraham, Isaac and Jacob are buried, is one of the most sacred sitesand should be marked for preservation and restoration.
“Thepoint here,” argued Khatib, “is that no matter whether historical siteshave religious connotations to Muslims, Christians or Jews, as long asit is in the Palestinian Territories it has to be the responsibility ofthe Palestinians.”
Similarly, he said, Palestinian sites withinthe pre-1967 armistice line are supposed to be Israel’s responsibilityand each side has to allow free access.
On Sunday, rain fell in Hebron but did not wash out the festivities as Jews celebrated the Purim holiday.
In a few isolated incidents Palestinians threw stones at soldiers.