Palestinians in Hebron
Photo: AP

Heritage plan breeds clashes in West Bank

Controversial government decision answered by general strike in Bethlehem, riots in Hebron

Clashes in Hebron between Palestinians and IDF forces were renewed Tuesday for the second consecutive day following a government decision to include the Cave of the Patriarchs in Israel's national heritage plan.


Dozens of Palestinian teens threw stones at security forces and torched tires in the city center and the old city, areas under Israeli control. The forces responded with means for riot dispersal, and no injuries have been reported.


The Palestinian Authority continues to condemn the plan, and claims it proves Israel does not want peace. The PLO has expressed support for the Palestinians' battle in Hebron.


In addition, a general strike took place in Bethlehem because of the inclusion of Rachel's Tomb in the heritage plan.


All of the Palestinian Authority's organizations, schools, and private firms went on strike in protest against the decision, and eyewitnesses describe growing IDF presence in the area of the holy site. Stone throwing was also reported.


On Sunday the Cabinet approved a comprehensive plan to preserve heritage sites across the country. Following pressure from a number of ministers, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu added two sites to the plan: Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem and the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron.


The UN Special Coordinator for Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry expressed concern over the government decision and the escalation in the region following the announcement.


Serry issued a statement in which he said that "these sites are located on Palestinian lands and have historic and religious significance not only to Judaism, but also to Christianity and Islam." Serry urged Israel to avoid taking steps that betray the trust between the two sides and harm the prospects of negotiations.


Efrat Weiss contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 02.23.10, 12:12
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