As Israelis prepared to go to the polls for the second time this year, Benjamin Netanyahu continued his recent habit of pandering to the settler movement, with a controversial visit to Hebron.
Before the Israeli prime minister and leader of Likud flew to London on Thursday to meet British PM Boris Johnson, Netanyahu told a press conference in the West Bank city of 200,000 Palestinians that Jews would remain there forever.
In a first-ever public address from Hebron by a sitting Israeli prime minister, and using Nazi terminology which means ‘excluding Jews,’ he said: “Hebron will not be devoid of Jews. It will not be Judenrein.”
Jewish left-wing parties said his comments risked stoking religious incitement in a city with 1,000 religious Jewish settlers and a heavy Israeli military presence. The Palestinian Authority likened his intervention to Ariel Sharon’s ill-fated Temple Mount visit in 2000, which triggered the Intifada.
Netanyahu’s comments were made in front of the Tomb of the Patriarchs, to mark 90 years since the 1929 Hebron Massacre, in which 67 Jews were killed, and came amid fervent calls by right-wing Israeli parties to bulldoze Hebron’s old market and replace it with homes for Jewish families.
“Hebron will not be cleansed of Jews,” Netanyahu said, ahead of Israel’s election on 17 September. “We are not strangers in Hebron. We will remain in it forever.”
A spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the comments were “a grave escalation” that “aims to drag the region into a religious war,” adding: “We warn against the grave consequences of this.”
In the run-up to recent Israeli elections, Netanyahu has made a series of incendiary statements and promises which analysts say panders to right-wing religious-nationalist supporters, in an effort to galvanise Likud’s traditional base.
Just days before Israel’s last election in April of this year, he promised to annex all illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank, a promise he reiterated on Sunday.
“With God’s help we will extend Jewish sovereignty to all the settlements as part of the (biblical) land of Israel, as part of the State of Israel,” he said during a visit to the settlement of Elkana. “This is our land. We will build another Elkana and another Elkana and another.”
Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.
Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.
For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.
Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.
You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.
100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...
Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.
There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.
In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.
Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish News also produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.
In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.
Voice of our community to wider society
The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.
We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.