Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister has declared that every Israeli appointed as one of the country’s ambassadors will be required to visit the Ibrahimi Mosque and “Jewish heritage sites” in the occupied West Bank. “The purpose,” said Danny Ayalon, “is so that they can see that Israel is in Hebron and Judea and Samaria [sic] as of right, not force.”
In a speech to the Israeli parliament on 23 February, Ayalon added, “I see such a visit as part of the education of Israel’s diplomatic representatives around the world, in order to prevent apologetic public relations, among other things”.
The Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported that this is a new policy adopted by the Foreign Ministry following approval from Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Ambassadors will also be taken on guided tours by illegal settlers living in the colony of Kiryat Arba near Hebron.
This move by the Foreign Ministry follows Education Minister Gid’on Saar’s announcement of plans to take Israeli schoolchildren on similar tours around the occupied West Bank.