Israeli military police have evacuated a synagogue in the Palestinian city of Jericho after some 50 Jewish settlers and right-wing activists barricaded themselves inside the building.
The confrontation came after the Israeli government’s announcement that it wants to rehabilitate 150 or so Jewish and Zionist heritage sites.
The problem is that two of them lie in the Palestinian-run West Bank, including Hebron’s Tomb of the Patriarchs which is a holy site to both Muslims and Jews.
It is not known if the Jericho synagogue is part of the Israeli government’s shrine plan. But it is believed the disputed Rachel’s Tomb near Bethlehem along with the Hebron site were included only after pressure from nationalist ministers in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-leaning coalition government.
Palestinian reformer, Mustafa Barghouti said: “This act in addition to the annexation of Rachel Tomb in Bethlehem is nothing but a declaration from the side of Israel that it will impose facts on the ground, annex the land and prevent any possibility for real peace.”
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says the Israelis are trying to wreck international efforts to resurrect talks between the two sides. He is due to meet the French president today in Paris to seek ways of accelerating the peace process.