Chairman of Jewish Agency arranges controversial trip to West Bank city of Hebron/Al-Khalil

Middle East Monitor  /  August 25, 2021

The new head of the Jewish Agency is organizing a trip to the occupied West Bank city of Hebron/Al-Khalil, where the settler population, particularly extreme right-wingers, continues to grow in violation of international law.

Coordinated by the World Zionist Organization (WZO), also led by Ya’akov Hagoel, staff members of the Jewish Agency, who spoke on condition of anonymity to Haaretz, revealed that they had never been invited to participate in an event at such “a politically contentious location.”

Jewish settlers regularly carry out raids in this area under the claims of performing religious rituals, despite the fact that this area is under the sovereignty of the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Scheduled for tomorrow, invitations have been sent out to the WZO and Jewish Agency employees, with an itinerary including “an exciting tour around Hebron,” a visit to the Ibrahimi Mosque which is known to Jews as the Cave of the Patriarchs and a gathering for selichot prayers.

The traditional Jewish prayers are said in the lead-up to the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

According to Haaretz, Sylvio Joscowicz, a member of the WZO executive, opposes the choice of venue.

He said: “As we are heading into the period of the High Holy Days, as I see it, the Zionist movement should be looking for places and events that symbolize what unites us rather than what divides us. There are many places where that can be done, but regretfully, they have chosen to deepen the rifts between us rather than search for consensus.”

Yaakov Hagoel has been filling in as acting chairman of the Jewish Agency since Isaac Herzog, the former chairman of the executive, was sworn in as president of Israel last month, before there was time to name his successor at the Jewish Agency.