MK Shaked (center) and MK Yogev (right) at the discussion
MK Shaked (center) and MK Yogev (right) at the discussionHezki Baruch

The Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Security Committee discussed on Monday the possibility of making the Cave of the Patriarchs (Me'arat Hamachpelah) handicap-accessible despite opposition from the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Former Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Yamina) said: "It's clear that over time, they have attempted to advance making the Cave of the Patriarchs accessible with the agreement of the Palestinians, but it's clear that it's not moving forward with the agreement of the Palestinians. When [Defense Minister Naftali] Bennett (Yamina) entered the Defense Ministry, I told him: 'There are two projects, one is the stock market in Hevron, and as Justice Minister I tried to create an opinion that would allow construction there, and the second is the elevator at the Cave of the Patriarchs. Both of these need to be released.' Regarding the stock market, he made that decision despite the threats and fear-mongering, and thank G-d things are okay there and I really hope that we will soon see a neighborhood built there."

"It's the same thing here, since we're not managing to obtain the agreement of the Palestinians, we need to move forward and I am sure that when the expropriation reaches the Defense Minister's table, he will approve it. As is known, there were other stages in the planning of the expropriation, and today we already know to define it properly. Therefore, there is no reason to delay any further. We must bring this issue to the political echelon for a decision, and I am sure that just like a decision was made regarding the Hevron market, there will be a decision regarding the expropriation. I suggest the committee's chairman hold an additional meeting on this issue in the near future. As a former Justice Minister, I know that these discussions are stressful for the government's executive branches."

Likud's MK Kati Shitrit, who was one of those who organized the discussion, said: "I am encouraged by the willingness and unanimous agreement of all the committee members on the issue of making the Cave of the Patriarchs accessible. We were promised by the head of the Civil Administration that within less than a year, we would see an elevator and a ramp for those with disabilities. Making the Cave of the Patriarchs accessible is a humanitarian issue which has been dragged out for over 20 years, and is now close to completion. I will continue to work towards making the Cave of the Patriarchs accessible."

MK Moti Yogev (Yamina) said: "I am happy that there is a discussion to make the Cave of the Patriarchs accessible to those with disabilities. This is a discussion that we initiated over a year and a half ago, in the subcommittee for issues in Judea and Samaria, and it has continued in the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee led by MK Gabi Ashkenazi (Blue and White). Thank you. I am happy that all the Committee's members have understood and joined together on this issue of connection to our forefathers' and foremothers' graves, and will push this accessibility forward. The defense system promised a year ago that it will advance even without the approval of Hevron's Mayor Tiyassir Abu Sanina, a murderous terrorist. I am happy that the restrictions have been removed and an elevator to make the Cave of the Patriarchs accessible to disabled individuals has been approved."

"The State of Israel needs to accept its sovereignty over the Jewish portion [of Hevron], including over the Cave of the Patriarchs. We still face a need and a project, to construct buildings which will serve the thousands of visitors to the Cave and to roof the center of the cave, which serves as its central synagogue. Hevron is ours, always and forever."