Scores of Palestinians on Monday clashed with Israeli forces in the West Bank city of Hebron, a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced plans to include two hotly contested sites — a Hebron shrine and a tomb in another West Bank city — on a list of Israeli national heritage sites.
Both sit in areas that Israel controls and that the Palestinians demand as part of the territory of a future state, and both have been focal points of past violence.
Their inclusion on the Israeli list enraged Palestinian leaders and prompted the U.N. special coordinator for West Asia to express concern.
The Israeli military said one soldier in Hebron was lightly wounded by rocks hurled by Palestinians. There were no reports of injuries on the Palestinian side.
On Sunday, Mr. Netanyahu laid out a $100-million government plan to rehabilitate what he called “archaeological and Zionist heritage sites”, during a special Cabinet meeting held in northern Israel at Tel Hai, the scene of a 1920 battle between Arabs and early Zionist settlers.
He said he intended to include the Cave of the Patriarchs, also known as Ibrahimi Mosque, the Hebron shrine revered by Jews, Muslims and Christians as the burial place of Abraham, on the list of about 150 sites. In 1994, a Jewish settler, Baruch Goldstein, fatally shot 29 Palestinian Muslim worshippers inside the shrine.
Mr. Netanyahu said he also planned to include Rachel's Tomb, a shrine just inside the West Bank city of Bethlehem.
“People must be familiar with their homeland and its cultural and historical vistas,” he told the Cabinet. “This is what we will instill in this and coming generations, to the glory — if I may say — of the Jewish people.”
Mr. Netanyahu had come under pressure from Israeli rightists to include the two shrines.
He said on Sunday the list of sites submitted to the Cabinet was neither final nor closed.
But the announcement drew sharp criticism from Palestinian officials and the Fatah party, led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. — New York Times News Service