The absence of the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron and the Tomb of Rachel in Bethlehem from a list of sites to receive funding as part of Israel’s National Heritage program has raised the ire of MKs in support of Jewish rights in Judea and Samaria.
MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) and MK Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) expressed disapproval that the two sites – the burial places of the Jewish foreparents Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, and Leah in Hebron, and Rachel in Bethlehem – were absent from a renovation funding list presented at a ministerial committee meeting on Tuesday.
Eldad defended the importance of the sites, and warned that withholding funding from the sites is equivalent to removing them from the National Heritage Program.
In February 2010, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced a NIS 500 million investment plan aimed at rejuvenating sites of importance to the Jewish People and the State of Israel. Israel was criticized by the US and the UN body UNESCO for including the two sites on the list.
The Prime Minister’s Office responded to concerns by saying the renovations necessary at the sites were not critical at this time, and that not receiving funding was no indication that the sites had been removed from the National Heritage list.
“Hebron wasn’t funded this time around, but we’ve been assured at the highest levels that in the near future, we will be”, said David Wilder, Spokesman of the Jewish Community of Hebron in an interview with The Jewish Press. “It wasn’t taken off the list.”
Tel Shiloh, the site which housed the Mishkan (Tabernacle) prior to its installation in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, will likely be picked for immediate renovation by the committee. It is located north of Jerusalem in the community of Shilo in Samaria.