The far-left Meretz party submitted a bill Wednesday calling for removing all Jews from Hevron, the city of the Biblical Jewish patriarchs and matriarchs. The National Union threatened to respond with a bill calling for removing the Arab residents.
The first bill was submitted by Meretz Chairman MK Yossi Beilin.
Speaking on behalf of the government, Minister Ruhama Avraham said that the government opposes the bill because the matter is "a diplomatic issue and only the government will decide upon it."
MK Beilin said he was pleased with the government's position because it did not rule out the eviction of Jews from Hevron, but stated that such a decision must be made by the government.
MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) told the Knesset plenum that he has presented a bill that calls for the expulsion of all Arabs from Hevron. He said the law mirrored the wording of the MK Beilin's bill.
When Arab MKs began shouting at him angrily, Eldad reassured them that he would not be bringing the declarative bill before the Knesset because he agrees that it is racist, just as Beilin's bill is.
MK Avraham gave a similar response to MK Eldad's proposal, saying the transfer of Hevron's Arabs is a "diplomatic issue" as well.
The bill was rejected by a vote of 47 to 11 and MK Eldad did not submit his bill to vote.
Hevron Jewish Community Responds
"It is ironic that during the very weeks we are reading about Abraham, Hevron, and purchase of the Machpelah Cave, the Knesset should be dealing with a bill promoting expulsion of Jews from Hebron, following in the footsteps of Nazi Mufti Haj Amin el-Hussainei and the British in 1929," community spokesman David Wilder told Arutz-7.
Wilder also took issue with the government's response to the bill: "The response should have been: 'Hebron, the first Jewish city in the land of Israel, home of our Patriarchs and Matriarchs, site of the second holiest place to Jews in the world, is part of the eternal essence of the Jewish people, the Jewish state and Jewish heritage. Such a subject should even be broached. Hebron will remain an integral part of the State of Israel forever.' The fact that this was not the response strengthens the fact that this government must be toppled as soon as possible and a new government, recognizing Hebron's significance, should take power."
The Hevron community has hosted over 70,000 visitors since Rosh HaShana and expects tens of thousands next Sabbath, when the Torah portion documenting the purchase of the Machpela Cave by Abraham will be read by Jews around the globe.