Teenagers meet Israeli minister in Hebron trip

A group of British teens discussed the Jewish claim on Hebron with Israel's Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar as he outlined a controversial plan to take pupils on tours of the West Bank city.

Participants in the Federation of Zionist Youth's gap-year programme were in Hebron for a day-long seminar, during which they heard a presentation from the director of left-wing Israeli NGO, Breaking the Silence, and toured the city with Jewish residents.

But FZY's visit to the Cave of the Patriarchs, believed by many to be where Abraham and the other Jewish forefathers were buried, coincided with a visit by Mr Sa'ar, there to launch his "Let's Go Up to Hebron" project.

This controversial programme will involve state-funded school visits to Hebron, heavily divided between Jewish and Palestinian areas.

Mr Sa'ar, a Kadima politician known for provocative policies, including an attempt last month to limit the use of non-Israeli music in schools, spoke to the UK teenagers for several minutes.

Josh Tankel, 19, from Manchester, said: "Everyone is so divided in Hebron - walking around you could see that if the security wasn't there, the Jews wouldn't be able to stay. It would be very easy for Israeli school groups just to stay in the Jewish area, and leave only seeing one side. I think a visit needs to show both sides of the story."

    Last updated: 2:40pm, February 24 2011