Two members of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government visited Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus late Wednesday night, urging unity among the people of Israel.
Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu and Minister of Culture and Sport Miki Zohar issued their plea as the country is engulfed in one of the most divisive debates in years over the planned judicial reforms.
“Ultimately, unity among the people of Israel is our strength as a nation, enabling us to defeat the many enemies that the nation of Israel unfortunately has,” said Zohar. “At this time, I call on all of Israel to unite with mutual responsibility because we have no other country.”
He said that he made the visit at this time because the biblical Joseph unified the tribes of Israel by forgiving everything his brothers did to him for the sake of peace in the nation.
The site has been a flashpoint for Palestinian violence in the past. The army escorts Jewish worshippers to the site several times a year, in coordination with Palestinian security forces.
Zohar voiced the hope that the holy site could be fully reopened to the public in the future.
“It’s tragic that in order to come here, we need such a large military contingent to protect us even though the site belongs to the Jewish people. This is absurd, and we need to correct this,” he said.
“It is a great privilege to pray at the tomb of Joseph the Righteous, who was the first Jewish minister in history,” said Eliyahu. “Joseph’s Tomb is one of the most important Jewish heritage sites, and coming here connects us with our nation’s deep roots. We pray that the day will come when the Israeli flag will again fly here with total security for worshippers.”
The ministers were among thousands of people who arrived at the site for prayer.