Chaim Levinson
February 8, 2011 - 1:00am

Settlers in Hebron received visiting Spanish foreign minister on Tuesday morning with derogatory cries, calling her a "Nazi" and "anti-Semite" because of her initial refusal to meet with settler leaders of the city.

In her first visit to Israel, Spanish Foreign Minister Trinidad Jimenez visited both the Jewish and Palestinian side of the city of Hebron on Tuesday. She decided to skip the usual trip offered to dignitaries which goes to Jerusalem and Ramallah, and instead she asked to tour Hebron, despite the opposition of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, in order to get her own sense of the situation.

Jimenez was accompanied by the governor of Hebron and visited the area surrounding the Tomb of the Patriarchs as well as the neighborhood dubbed the "Eastern Casbah" – a residential area recently abandoned by Palestinians where the European Union is funding a project to restore the area and return its original residents. Jimenez entered several homes and spoke to the families living there.

The Jewish settlers of Hebron, however, protested Jimenez' visit because she initially refused to meet with their leaders. The leaders of the community carried signs condemning the Spanish government's policies, and some residents even greeted Jimenez with calls of "Nazi" and "anti-Semite."

Police and Shin Bet forces scattered the settlers' protest, and eventually Jimenez agreed to conduct a small meeting with Noam Arnon, the spokesperson for Jewish settlements in Hebron. Arnon told Jimenez about activities in Hebron, and claimed that the EU's project was rehabilitating families of terrorists and not poor Palestinians.

Jimenez told Arnon that she wished to see all the communities in Hebron live side by side peacefully.

On Monday, Haaretz learned that Jimenez decided not to include Defense Minister Ehud Barak in her schedule and instead made an appointment with the interim Labor chairman, Micha Harish.

Spanish diplomats who asked to remain anonymous because of the sensitive nature of the subject said that the fact that Jimenez is not meeting Barak stems from a decision made during preparations for the visit.

"After Barak left labor he has no political influence in the coalition," a Spanish diplomat said. "In political matters we will talk with Prime Minister Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Lieberman, and when our defense minister visits Israel she will meet with Barak and discuss with him security issues pertaining to his ministry, which are his responsibility."


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017