Hundreds of thousands of Israelis likely to visit West Bank site after court decision
Hundreds of thousands of Israelis are likely to visit a West Bank tomb in the coming year, after a Jerusalem court awarded two rabbis legal and administrative control over it in contravention of international law.
Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus is in the part of the West Bank that the Oslo Accords assigned to full Palestinian control.
Consequently, the Israel Defense Forces officially have no jurisdiction in the area and any Israeli involvement there is illegal.
However Israeli court judge Rabbi Haim Rosenthal ruled that rabbis Shlomo Ben-Shimon and Mordechai Gross, who head the settler organization Shechem Ehad (One Nablus), are the “representatives entitled to appear, legally and publicly, before any court or institution on matters connected to” the tomb, according to a report in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
The court granted the two rabbis sole control over the area for the next 18 months, after which it will review the decision.
Currently over 20,000 Jews visit the tomb a year, as it is open from midnight to 4am once a month, but the decision could see that number increase to hundreds of thousands.
In their application, the two rabbis argued that the 20,000 limit “doesn’t at all satisfy the enormous demand.”
The court had previously refused the request, and the decision will be seen as yet another abuse of Palestinian autonomy.
The decision is likely to enrage Palestinians who already suffer an ongoing occupation of the West Bank.
Netanel Shnir, another key figure in Shechem Ehad, was quoted in November 2010 as saying that the ultimate goal of the group was to get Jews to return to Nablus “to settle there and inherit the land.”
Israel continues to encourage the development of illegal Jewish-only settlements in the West Bank, despite condemnation from the United Nations, the European Union, and rights groups.
The Jewish state refuses to accept Palestinian sovereignty in the West Bank, maintaining an illegal occupation in the area while upholding a siege on Gaza.
- Jewish settlers attack village, block Nablus road (alethonews.wordpress.com)
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