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September 4, 2019 1:12 pm

‘We Are Not Foreigners in Hebron, We Will Stay Here Forever,’ Israeli PM Netanyahu Declares During Historic Visit to Flashpoint City

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looks up while his wife Sara touches the outside wall of the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, Sept. 4, 2019. Photo: Emil Salman / Pool via Reuters.

Benjamin Netanyahu became the first Israeli prime minister to deliver a public speech in Hebron on Wednesday, when he attended a memorial ceremony marking the 90th anniversary of the massacre of dozens of Jewish residents of the city by Arab rioters during the British Mandate era.

That August 1929 violence led to the evacuation of the Jewish community in Hebron, and a Jewish presence was not renewed there until after Israel gained control of the West Bank from Jordan during the Six-Day War four decades later.

Hebron is the second-holiest city in Judaism, behind only Jerusalem.

On Wednesday, Netanyahu said, “We are not foreigners in Hebron, we will stay here forever. We always remember the eternal call of Caleb, son of Jephuneh, who was faithful to Hebron, and we act in accordance with it: ‘Let us go up.'”

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“While we are not coming to banish anyone, neither will anyone banish us,” the Israeli leader emphasized. “To cite the late Menachem Begin and the late Yigal Allon: ‘Hebron will not be devoid of Jews.’ It will not be Judenrein.”

Netanyahu’s visit to Hebron — a flashpoint city in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — was strongly condemned by Ramallah.

“We warn against the grave consequences of this raid by Netanyahu, who is trying to win the votes of the Israeli extreme-right,” Nabil Abu Rdainah, spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, stated, referring to the upcoming Knesset elections on Sep. 17. “This grave escalation … aims to drag the region into a religious war.”

“We emphasize the need for the international community to intervene in this matter,” he added.

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