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The Kotel: A Public Space, Not a Public Square

    JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu read from the Bible during his weekly Cabinet meeting to illustrate the Jewish people’s and Israel’s connection to Hebron, two days after a UN committee passed a resolution calling the Cave of the Patriarchs there a Palestinian heritage site.

   The premier read from Genesis 23:16-19, which recounts Abraham buying the Cave of Machpelah in Hebron for four hundred shekels of silver as a burial place for him and his family.

   “The connection between the Jewish People and Hebron and the Tomb of the Patriarchs is one of purchase and of history which may be without parallel in the history of peoples,” Netanyahu said. “Of course this did not prevent the UNESCO World Heritage Committee last Friday from passing yet another delusional resolution which determined that the Tomb of the Patriarchs, the same Cave of Machpelah, is a Palestinian heritage site.”

   He reiterated an announcement first made on Friday that Israel would cut an additional $1 million from Israel’s U.N. membership dues and transfer the funds to the establishment of The Museum of the Heritage of the Jewish People in Kiryat Arba and Hebron. The money also will be used for additional heritage initiatives related to Hebron, he said.

   Israel announced in May that it would withhold $1 million in its U.N. funding following the passage by UNESCO of a resolution that condemned the country’s sovereignty in Jerusalem.

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