Palestinians decry Netanyahu’s ‘racist visit’ in Hebron, warn of violence

Palestinians burn Netanyahu’s photo, warn of “dangerous escalation” following the Israeli prime minister’s speech in Hebron Wednesday.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The Palestinian Authority (PA) reacted quickly and fiercely to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech Wednesday in Hebron in which he declared that Jews will “remain in Hebron forever.”

In a statement, the PA foreign ministry called his participation in a state ceremony, marking 90 years since rioting Arabs murdered 67 Jews in the infamous Hebron massacre, “a purely colonialist, racist visit.”

The Palestinians attributed Netanyahu’s first appearance in the city in 20 years to election politics, “an attempt to win votes from the right and the extreme right,” the statement said.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, said that Netanyahu’s stated commitment to a Jewish presence in the ancient city was an “attack” that required an international response.

“We place the responsibility for this dangerous escalation on the Occupation Government, which wants to drag the region into a religious war,” Rudeineh declared. He called on the international community “to intervene in the issue, especially UNESCO, to end Israel’s attack on Hebron.”

Meanwhile, the Fatah movement, which is the largest bloc in the PA and headed by Abbas, posted pictures of angry men setting pictures of Netanyahu alight on its official Twitter account. The comment above the picture said, “Burning the picture of the prime minister of the occupation Netanyahu in Hebron while he was breaking into the city and befouling it, accompanied by dozens of senior Israeli officials.”

A Palestinian group called Youth Against Settlements put up a huge Palestinian flag near the plaza in front of the Cave of the Patriarchs, where the ceremony took place. Soldiers there to secure the event arrested several young men who threw stones and firecrackers at them in the city center.

Many politicians to the right of Likud were also unhappy with the prime minister’s speech, but for an entirely opposite reason: He did not announce Jewish building in the marketplace area that was owned by Jews before the 1929 Hebron Massacre and which the attorney general had declared legally possible 10 months ago.

As Orit Struk of Yemina put it Wednesday evening, “Prime Minister Netanyahu, you spoke very well about historic justice. But you’re not a copywriter. You are the prime minister of the Jewish people. You are supposed to do, not just talk,” she said.