While the Jewish settlement in the West Bank city of Hebron is gearing for the traditional water-drawing festival at the Cave of Patriarchs, Hebron settlers have made the opening move in their play to reclaim the previously evicted area of the wholesaler market.
A dedication ceremony for a new kindergarten was held Monday afternoon, among the abandoned buildings of the market. Hundreds of right-wing activists attended the ceremony, including Deputy Education Minister Meir Porush.
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The groundbreaking ceremony was a symbolic move, not officially sanctioned by the Israeli authorities.
"There is an important political lesson here for us to learn," he said. "We must learn from the Arabs how to stand firm and not waive political demands. Had we acted this way, our political situation and position in negotiations would have been better."
Deputy Minister Meir Porush (Photo: Yair Altman)
Addressing the resumption of settlement construction, he added: "I've seen children whose only sin was being born Jewish in Hebron and are therefore forced to crowd together in kindergartens inside basements with no windows or any garden."
Hebron settlers have tried to claim the area twice before: The first time, in 2001, followed the murder of toddler Shalhevet Pas by a Palestinian sniper; and the second in 2007. Both attempts ended with their forceful evacuation.
"The State should allow us to build another kindergarten here, given how crowded our other ones are," said Orit Struck, one of the Hebron community's outspoken leaders. "These children are living here because of previous government decisions."
Struck added that she was in possession of a petition, signed by 44 Knesset Member – including 14 Kadima MKs – supporting the move. Still, the Jewish community of the West Bank city admitted the move was largely symbolic and "meant to awaken the government and prompt it to uphold its duties towards the city of Hebron, as stipulated in both international agreements and government decisions."
Meanwhile, the West Bank settlement of Dolev, northwest of Ramallah, announced it will name a new street after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Construction of the street will begin Tuesday following the end on the settlement freeze.
"We have decided to honor the prime minister, who did not cave in to international pressure," a Dolev resident said.
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