Foreign Ministry Slams Rivlin’s Visit to Hebron as Abusive

RAMALLAH, February 3, 2015 (WAFA) – Ministry of Foreign Affairs has denounced a visit by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin to the Old City of Hebron earlier Monday, during which he reaffirmed what he described as “Jewish rights” in the city.

In a statement published Tuesday, the Foreign Ministry said the visit of “far-right extremist Rivlin” constitutes an escalation in the Israeli policies of expanding settlement activities in the West Bank, as well bolstering the Israeli “Judaization” policies of Area C.

The Ministry described Rivlin’s visit as a declared aggression on the Palestinian people, a defiance of international law and legitimacy, and a hint of support to illegal settlers and their crimes against Palestinians.

Yesterday, Israeli President Rivlin visited the Old City of Hebron and the adjacent settlement of Kiryat Arba, to attend the inauguration of the newly refurbished Hebron Jewish Heritage Museum.

According to Israeli media, the visit spurred anger among left-wing Israeli partisans.

Rivlin opened his speech in Hebron by hinting that where he was standing, the Jewish people’s right for the land of Israel was established.

“There’s no way to go back down the path through which our people’s consciousness was created without going to Hebron,” he was quoted by Israeli media.

“The story of our roots is planted deep in the rocky grounds of Mount Hebron. For me this is not cynical or political statement – it is a basic fact that is clear to me, and is also true in the wider national and public context, that the Jewish community in Hebron tells the story of the creation of a nation, during its hay day, and also in difficult times.”

Shortly following the visit, opposing Palestinian residents and Israeli peace activists protested at a checkpoint dividing the Israeli-ruled and the Palestinian-ruled two parts of the city. Attorney Gaby Lasky of the Israeli left-wing party Meretz was among the protesters.

Israeli soldiers fired teargas canisters towards the protesters, causing cases of suffocation by teargas inhalation.

Israeli media said a scuffle broke out at the scene between the Meretz activists and a group of extreme right-wing activists and settlers.

“The government is putting another stake in Hebron and is deepening the occupation,” said Lasky.

“It’s regretful to see how security forces are sent time and again to protect a violent and aggressive minority that sets facts on the ground,” she said in reference to around 400 Israeli settlers implanted in the heart of Hebron, a densely populated Palestinian city with almost 250,000 Palestinian inhabitants.