The Israel Defense Forces called off a planned Tuesday morning visit by Knesset members to the Tomb of Joseph in Samaria, following threats of Arab violence. The Defense Ministry and IDF Central Command informed the MKs of the cancellation after midnight.
The parliamentarians, who belong to the Land of Israel Lobby in the Knesset, wanted to visit the Tomb to mark the shloshim, or thirtieth day, since the murder of yeshiva student Ben Yosef Livnat outside the Tomb. Livnat was shot dead at close range by Palestinian Authority “police” terrorists.
The visit was to be the first one to take place during daytime hours since the IDF abandoned the site in the year 2000, in ignominious circumstances. The Rabbi of Samaria, Rav Elyakim Levanon, and local authority head Gershon Mesika were to accompany the MKs.
The formal reason given for the cancellation was concern over potential rioting by local Arabs, who would have the support of the Palestinian Authority.
MKs Ze’ev Elkin and Aryeh Eldad, who head the Land of Israel Lobby, responded with derision to the decision. “Defense Minister Barak and the defense establishment have proven that they cannot stand behind their words and enable a visit to the Tomb of Joseph on the 30th day after a PA policeman murdered Ben Yosef Livnat there,” the stated. Noting that the Tomb of Joseph was supposed to be in Israeli control according to the Oslo Accords. They called the decision “a surrender to the terror threats of the PA, which incited the PA public to violently oppose the visit.”
Political sources attacked Judea and Samaria Division Commander Nitzan Alon, who they said had been “trying to torpedo the visit from day one.”