PM Adds Rachel's Tomb, Cave of Machpelah to Heritage Sites

Prime Minister adds Cave of Machpelah in Hevron and Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem to list of heritage sites receiving special attention.

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Gil Ronen, | updated: 13:34

MKs outside Cave of Machpela
MKs outside Cave of Machpela
Israel news photo: Hevron Community

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has added the sites where the Patriarchs and Matriarchs of Israel are buried -- the Cave of Machpelah in Hevron and Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem -- to the list of heritage sites in which the government intends to invest. The decision appears to be the result of last-minute pressure exerted on Netanyahu from nationalists who could not understand why he left out the very important Biblical Jewish holy sites, while including many Christian sites in the heritage list.

The government will vote Sunday on the decision to set aside funds for restoration and development of Jewish, Zionist and Christian heritage sites.

The government assembled for its weekly session Sunday morning at the Tel Chai compound, the site of a historic battle in which legendary one-armed Jewish hero Yosef Trumpeldor was killed in 1920.

Netanyahu opened the session with an explanation of the heritage site list plan. “Our existence here does not depend only on the IDF and military and technological prowess,” he said, “but also on what we pass on to the young generation and in our connection to the Land.”

"We are deciding on the largest and most comprehensive plan ever for strengthening the heritage infrastructures,” he told the Cabinet. We will renovate archaeological sites, museums and more. We will create two hiking paths – one historical and the other centered on the Israeli experience – which will connect the sites.”

MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) congratulated the government for its decision to include the Cave of Machpelah in the list of national heritage sites. "I am glad that they listened to the wishes of the people that were expressed by the Land of Israel Lobby in the Knesset," MK Eldad said. "Without the Bible it would be impossible to understand Jewish heritage in the Land of Israel," he explained, and added that other holy places in Judea and Samaria should be included in the list as well.