“Hebron will never be Judenrein… We are not strangers in Hebron,” Netanyahu said.
By World Israel News Staff
“Hebron will never be Judenrein… We are not strangers in Hebron. We will remain here forever,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday.
The prime minister was visiting the ancient city for the first time in 20 years to attend a commemoration marking the 90th anniversary of the 1929 Hebron massacre, in which 67 Jews were murdered by Arab rioters.
“We came to express victory. Bloodthirsty rioters carried out the horrific massacre 90 years ago. They were sure that by doing so they were uprooting us from this place once and for all – they made a bitter mistake,” the prime minister said.
Hebron’s Jewish residents, which number 800, had hoped that Netanyahu would use the opportunity of his visit to announce his approval of a plan to build Jewish homes in a “wholesale market” that had been owned by Jews before the massacre.
However, Netanyahu stopped short of approving the plan, only saying he was “looking into” the matter, along with a second request to make the Tomb of the Patriarchs wheelchair-accessible. He also avoided declaring his support for Israeli sovereignty over the 20 percent of the city controlled by Israel.
Hebron is divided into two parts: H1 and H2. H1 comprises 80 percent of the city and is under Palestinian Authority control. H2 is the 20 percent in which the Jews live. However, there are also 40,000 Arabs in that section.
Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein, who is listed No. 2 on the Likud party list after Netanyahu, spoke earlier and called for expanding the Jewish presence in the city.
“It’s time for sovereignty in Hebron. It’s time for the Jewish community to grow by the thousands in Hebron. It’s time that visiting the Tomb of the Patriarchs will become the easiest and most natural thing to do,’” Edelstein said.
Minister of Sports and Culture Miri Regev, also of the Likud, also called for applying Israeli sovereignty in the city.
Netanyahu was criticized by members of the Yemina faction, a group of right-wing parties to the right of Likud. Yemina Chairwoman Ayelet Shaked, who had earlier urged the prime minister to approve the construction plan in the Hebron marketplace, said “only words. Even wheelchair accessibility to the Tomb of the Patriarchs he didn’t approve.”
The Tomb of the Patriarchs is the second holiest site in Judaism, next to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. According to the Bible, Abraham purchased a burial plot for his wife Sarah there.
The Tomb, enclosed by a rectangular building from the Herodian era, is said to be the spot where Judaism’s patriarchs and matriarchs are buried, including Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, and Jacob and Leah.
Netanyahu visited the Tomb during his tour.