Jiménez. Refused to meet with settlers
Photo: AFP
Cave of the Patriarchs. Access to be blocked?
Photo: AFP

Rightists call Spanish FM 'anti-Semite'

Trinidad Jiménez greeted by dozens of angry right-wing activists during visit to Hebron. Jewish settlers say European Union supporting renovation of Palestinian neighborhood aimed at blocking Jews' access to Cave of Patriarchs

Spanish Foreign Minister Trinidad Jiménez visited the West Bank city of Hebron on Tuesday morning and was greeted by dozens of right-wing activists who called her an "anti-Semite", a "Jew hater" and a "villain".


The activists' leaders, Itamar Ben-Gvir and Baruch Marzel, said the European Union supported the establishment of a Palestinian neighborhood in the area, aimed at blocking Jews' access to the Cave of the Patriarchs. The Spanish minister refused to meet with them.


The protestors carried signs reading, "500 years ago Spain expelled the Jews to Hebron. Does Spain wish to expel the Jews a second time?"


One of the rightists used a loudspeaker to address the minister in English: "We want to talk to you. Why are you so anti-Jews? Why do you want to expel the Jews from Hebron? Why are you ignoring us?"


The Hebron protestors said they were enraged at the EU's support for the renovation of a neighborhood located in the heart of the Jewish settlements in Hebron, which was deserted after the Six-Day War. According to the rightists, the Palestinian Authority has been housing families of terror activists in the area.


The discussed neighborhood is located in H2 area which is under Palestinian administrative control but where Israel maintains military presence. The renovation work, estimated at €50 million (about $68 million), began about half a year ago. some 1,500 people live in the neighborhood, and 3,000 Palestinians are expected to live there when the restoration is complete.


The settlers claimed that families of terror activists were being invited to the neighborhood to create tension with the Jews.


"Palestinian media reported that terrorists' families are invited to come and live in the area," said Kiryat Arba Mayor Malachi Levinger. "The Palestinian Authority's goal is clear, and so is the goal of the European Union, which is harming the delicate fabric of life here with its continued support for anti-Jewish and anti-Israel organizations. The illegal construction works are aimed at blocking Jews' access to the Cave of the Patriarchs."


Defense official: Hidden goal

Defense establishment officials agree that settling the Palestinian neighborhood would only complicate the security situation, which is complex as it is.


"It's clear to us, according to the type of Palestinian tenants moving into the neighborhood, that there is a hidden goal to prepare the area for the day when the access to the Cave of the Patriarchs will be blocked, if and when the situation here changes," a defense official told Ynet.


"At the moment it looks distant, but a change in the PA's policy could make things look different."


The leaders of the Jewish settlement were also enraged by the Spanish minister's refusal to meet with them. "We sent her a letter, and she didn't even bother answering us," said Noam Arnon, the Jewish settlement's spokesperson.


In the end, however, Arnon managed to exchange a few words with the minister near the Beit Hadassah neighborhood. He said she told him that she recognized the right of all of Hebron's communities to live in peace side by side.


"That was what I wanted to hear from her," said Arnon. "I asked her why they only support the Arabs, and she said they support all sides."



פרסום ראשון: 02.08.11, 14:57
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