JERUSALEM (JTA) – Two West Bank biblical sites will be added to a list of national heritage sites that Israel will rehabilitate and promote.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the plans for Rachel’s Tomb and the Cave of the Patriarchs at a Cabinet meeting Sunday in the northern historical site of Tel Chai, on the 90th anniversary of the fall of Joseph Trumpeldor and seven others at that spot.
The government was set to approve a more than $100 million plan to renovate and restore about 150 national heritage sites.
Adding the West Bank sites is controversial since they are located in territory claimed by the Palestinians for an eventual state.
The plan also will create two trails throughout the country: a historical trail of archeological sites from the biblical, Second Temple and other eras and an Israel experience trail.
Netanyahu also mentioned renovating Independence Hall in Tel Aviv.
"Our existence here in our country depends not only on the strength of the IDF and our economic and technological might," he said to open the meeting. "It is anchored, first and foremost, in our national and emotional legacy, which we instill in our youth and in the coming generations."
Netanyahu went on to say that "I think that this project is of the highest national value and, for at least some of the sites that have to do with global cultural assets, of the highest international value. People must be familiar with their homeland and its cultural and historical vistas."