Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Palestinian President Abbas with Belgian PM Yves LETERME
Photo: AFP

PM's Office: Abbas' war threats hypocritical

Cabinet's decision to include Rachel's Tomb, Cave of Patriarchs in list of national heritage sites sparks international law. Head of Netanyahu's National Information Directorate says in response, 'These are the burial sites of the Jewish people's forefathers'

The Prime Minister's Office responded Tuesday to the Palestinians' war and intifada threats following the decision to include Rachel's Tomb and the Cave of the Patriarchs in the list of Israel's heritage sites slated to be renovated and preserved.


According to Nir Hefetz, head of the National Information Directorate, "This is a false and hypocritical campaign. The State of Israel is committed to the freedom of worship of all religions in all holy sites, and this is what is it doing in practice."


According to Hefetz, "Rachel's Tomb and the Cave of the Patriarchs are burial sites of Israel's forefathers dating back more than 3,500 years. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the nation's foremothers – Sarah, Rebecca, Leah and Rachel – and are definitely worthy of preservation and renovation."


Hefetz added that "these days, the re-maintenance of the entrance plaza and the way leading to the Muslim's prayer hall in the Cave of the Patriarchs is being completed. Israel will work in a similar way to maintain the site used by Jews arriving at the Cave of the Patriarchs."

Riots in Hebron following Israeli decision (Photo: AFP)


Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Tuesday that the Israeli decision to add the two sites, located in Hebron and Bethlehem, to the list of national heritage sites was "a serious provocation which may lead to a religious war."


Speaking at the Belgian Parliament in Brussels, Abbas said that the move taken by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu followed a request made by US President Barack Obama for trust-building moves towards the Palestinians.


"We have reached a very critical stage, which requires coordinated and intensive international activity, as we must stop the building in the settlements, which are killing the peace process and contradict Israel's commitments, which stem from the first clause of the Road Map and from the signed agreements," the Palestinian leader said.


The Hamas prime minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, presented an even firmer stand. He called on the Palestinians to launch a new intifada in protest of the decision to add the two places to the heritage sites list.


"This requires the release of all Palestinians prisoners in the PA's jails, halting the negotiations and achieving a Palestinian reconciliation agreement," he said.


Syria joined the condemnations as well. "The announcement made by the Israeli occupation authorities, to add the two holy sites in Hebron and Bethlehem, is a blatant violation of international law and a continuation of the policy of Judaizing the occupied Palestinian territories," the Foreign Ministry in Damascus said in a statement.


פרסום ראשון: 02.23.10, 20:00
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