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August 11, 1995 - Image 121

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1995-08-11

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

1

Nevertheless, he notes, "the
sensitivity that the Israeli nego-
tiators have displayed toward the
security of a few dozen settlers
near Jenin did not extend to
Rachel's Tomb" until Foreign
Minister Shimon Peres sudden-
ly discovered that the shrine
"which for generations has been
featured on charity boxes, post-
cards, and paintings" is "sacred
to secular [Israelis] as well."
Indeed, responding to a rare
alliance of the religious parties
and the mainstream press, Mr.
Peres visited the shrine last week
and announced that for the du-
ration of the Interim Agreement,
at least, Israeli guards will con-
tinue to be posted there. He also
noted that Israel will pave a spe-
cial road, under exclusive Israeli
control, to ensure Jews safe ac-
cess to the site.
It is far from clear, however,
that the Palestinians will be
amenable to this compromise.
Their concern is less over the
arrangement at Rachel's Tomb,
which lies just 460 meters south
of Jerusalem (albeit in an area
populated by Arabs), than with
its implications for other Jewish
holy sites in the heart of Pales-
tinian cities.
Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin
has assured representatives of
the religious parties, for example,
that the current arrangements
will continue at the Cave of the
Patriarchs in Hebron (which is
both a mosque and a synagogue)
and at Joseph's Tomb in Nablus
(which is under exclusive Israeli
control). That means, redeploy-
ments notwithstanding, Israeli
troops will remain at both these
sites.
Thus the fate of the holy places
is sure to remain a hot issue both
in the negotiations between
Israelis and Palestinians and in
the dialogue among Israelis
themselves. Few doubt these
days that the internal Israeli flap
over Rachel's Tomb is but a pale
preview of what Mr. Rabin fore-
casts as a "clash of world views"
in Israeli society over the future
of the West Bank. And if nothing
else, it has underscored the need,
already overdue, to clarify not
just Israel's national aims but the
deeper and more complex issue
that Mr. Benvenisti calls "the
Israeli identity in the age of
peace." ❑

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