Peace between Israelis and Palestinians will not come as a result of uprooting Jews from their homes, Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar said on Wednesday evening.
Speaking at a ceremony marking the establishment of 64 new housing units in the West Bank settlement of Har Bracha, Sa’ar told the crowd that Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip “did not improve or elevate Israel’s status, nor did it help achieve peace and security.”
Sa’ar, who was graciously received by local leaders, stated that the settlement enterprise is based on the “Jewish right to the land,” and that any form of withdrawal will leave Israel vulnerable to threats from countries such as Iran.
Sa’ar’s speech came hours after he announced a plan to expand a pilot curriculum of student tours in the West Bank city of Hebron and the Tomb of the Patriarchs.
The controversial "heritage tours" curriculum had until now been geared only toward students in the Jerusalem school district, but Sa'ar now wants to make it available to students across the country.
"The response to this these tours has so far been high, and has been carried out by choice by the interested schools," Sa'ar told the Knesset. "A Jewish community has existed in Hebron for so many years, even when the people of Israel were all in exile. According to our faith, Jews will always live in Hebron. We must not allow this illusion to be created among Arabs that it will ever be possible to uproot Jews from Hebron."
Last week, the Israel Police canceled a government program that would allow high school students to tour Hebron with the Breaking the Silence organization - a group that collects testimony from soldiers who have served in the West Bank - after pressure from right-wing settler groups.
The program would have marked the first time the Education Ministry had granted a school permission to tour Hebron with the awareness group.
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