'Who's in charge of the Cave of the Patriarchs?'

MK Gideon Sa'ar protests negotiating with PA on how, when, whether to make Cave of the Patriarchs handicapped-accessible.

Hezki Baruch,

Knesset discussion on making Cave of the Patriarchs accessible to all
Knesset discussion on making Cave of the Patriarchs accessible to all
Hezki Baruch

Former Interior Minister Gideon Sa'ar (Likud) protested Israel's "endless" negotiations with the Palestinian Authority (PA) regarding whether, when, and how to make the Cave of the Patriarchs (Me'arat Hamachpelah) handicapped-accessible.

"We'ere not talking here about a specific issue regarding a wall, an elevator," Sa'ar said Wednesday at a Knesset meeting on the issue. "We're talking about a fundamental issue: Who's in charge? Who's in charge of the Cave of the Patriarchs?"

"I was amazed to hear that we are negotiating with the Palestinian Authority, granting the Palestinian Authority a legal standing that it doesn't have."

Sa'ar noted that "according to the agreements" the Cave of the Patriarchs is under Israeli control, and noted that the PA's refusal to cooperate is not new.

"The Palestinian Authority is also a group that we are fighting regarding our rights in Israel, including at the Cave of the Patriarchs. So they're the ones who are going to help us?" he questioned.

"It harms our rights to hold negotiations with the Palestinian Authority on this issue. This is the Cave of the Patriarchs, it's a site that has been handed over to the authority of the State of Israel."

Though "there are worshipers from both nations," he said, "history and our tradition require completely different treatment of this place."

"Fifty years after Jews settled in Hevron, it's time we started acting like the ones in charge of the Cave of the Patriarchs.

"I propose to clearly demand the Prime Minister and Defense Minister act. I suggest also adding a limitation on the very idea of negotiations with the Palestinian Authority on this issue. Let's act, there's no reason for more delays."

Pushing for follow-up, Sa'ar concluded: "If we have another meeting in the month of June, there's a chance Israel's Knesset might take this seriously."

Last year, over 100 Likud movement members signed a petition demanding the Cave of the Patriarchs - a site with many stairs - be made wheelchair accessible, so that handicapped visitors from every part of society, as well as handicapped tourists, be able to visit.

However, Arab MKs, as well as the Palestinian Authority, have staunchly refused to cooperate.




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