Rivlin to light first Hanukka candle in Hebron

Event is part of a plan to bring MKs to various places of historic significance in the West Bank during the holiday.

Rivlin 311 (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Rivlin 311
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud) plans to light the first Hanukka candle at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron on Wednesday evening.
The event, which is partially sponsored by the Knesset’s Land of Israel Caucus, is part of a plan to bring MKs to various places of historic significance in the West Bank during the holiday, caucus chairman MK Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) said.
Hebron Jewish community spokesman David Wilder said Rivlin’s intended visit makes an important statement about the Jewish significance of Hebron, at a time when the international community was trying to deny the city’s Jewish roots.
“I think his presence represents the feeling of this government and the State of Israel that Hebron is a living part of our national heritage,” he said. “I think it is very significant that he is going to be lighting a candle on the first night of Hanukka [in the Cave of the Patriarchs].”
He added that the holiday which commemorated the victory of the Jewish people against a much stronger power, speaks to the situation today, as Israel tries to withstand pressure from the United States, one of the most powerful countries in the world.
Rivlin is heading to the Cave of the Patriarchs a month after the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization angered Israel by declaring that the site was an “integral part” of the “occupied” Palestinian territories.
The trip also comes in the midst of a battle by right-wing politicians and settlers to prevent Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu from caving to US pressure to impose a new 90-day settlement construction freeze.
When the possibility of such a freeze in return for certain American guarantees was first raised close to two weeks ago, its opponents immediately mounted a stiff campaign against it, even as they doubted that the US would agree to put its guarantees in writing.
Indeed, as days have passed without the US proffering such a document, settlers have come to believe that the idea of a freeze is frozen.
Last Thursday, the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip took down a protest tent in front of the Prime Minister’s Office, which they had set up only three days earlier.
Council head Dani Dayan said that the political situation would be reassessed over the weekend, and that the tent could be built again if the situation warranted.
But settlers are hardly sitting idly by as they wait to see what happens with the freeze. On Sunday, the council organized a letter-writing campaign in which all schoolchildren in Judea and Samaria will pen messages to Netanyahu asking him not to freeze new construction in those areas.
“This government should have rejected unconditionally the notion of an additional moratorium. However, given the present situation it is important that a solid consensus has emerged in the government, that seems to include the prime minister and his closest allies, that requires a positive commitment by the US that this is the last one [freeze],” Dayan said.
That consensus, he said, has also concluded that the freeze should not include east Jerusalem and that when negotiations with the Palestinians are resumed, it would include all the core issues, and not just focus on borders.