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Netanyahu makes a historical move by holding a public speech in Hebron

By F.F. Dawkins - September 06, 2019
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Hebron]

After his recent controversial pledge to annex settlements in the West Bank, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has taken yet another step to the win the support of the extreme right-wing spectrum for the upcoming elections in Israel on the 17 September.

On Wednesday, 4 September, Netanyahu held a public speech in the Israeli Settlement in the old city of Hebron. The ceremony took place at the Tomb of the Patriarchs and honoured the 67 Jews, which have been killed in a massacre 90 years ago in Hebron.

Netanyahu’s speech is unusual, as no other Israeli prime minister has ever publicly spoken at such an event in Hebron. The last prime minister who has visited Hebron was Ariel Sharon, back in 2002. However, Sharon never stepped out of his car.

Regarding the current polls and the current head-to-head race with his opponent Benny Gantz, Netanyahu is attempting to ensure that his Likud party has the support of the extreme right-wing electorate.

During his speech, he stated that “While we are not coming to banish anyone, neither will anyone banish us”, with which he referred to the current situation of the illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Additionally, Netanyahu addressed the current status of Hebron. He said that “Hebron will not be cleansed of Jews ... We are not strangers in Hebron. We will remain in it forever”.

He further stated that Hebron “will not be devoid of Jews. It will not be Judenrein”. “Judenrein” is a term frequently used by Nazis in the Third Reich, which means “free of Jews”.

Before and during Netanyahu’s appearance at the Tomb of the Patriarchs, the area was shut down by military forces, and Palestinian residents of the old city weren’t allowed to leave their homes nor access their roofs.

The approximately 1000 visitors attending the event, the majority of which were settlers, were guarded by a heavy military presence.

In an interview with Palestine Monitor, Bassam Abu Eisheh, a community leader of Tel Rumeida said “One day before the event took place, we have been told that we are not allowed to leave our home. Children could not go to school and shops the shops were forced to close.”

The Palestinian Authority Foreign Ministry condemned Netanyahu’s visits as a “purely colonialist, racist visit that Netanyahu is doing at the height of an election battle in an attempt to win votes from the right and the extreme right”, adding that “It reminds us of [prime minister] Ariel Sharon’s visit in Jerusalem [to the Temple Mount] in 2000, which ignited the Al-Aqsa Intifada”.

In the city centre, small riots followed the visit of Netanyahu with youths throwing stones at soldiers, who responded with arrests.

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