The Old City of Hebron as seen from the Tel Rumeida neighborhood.
(photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
Central Command head Maj.-Gen. Roni Numa signed an order on Thursday giving Hebron’s Jewish community official municipal standing.
According to Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben Dahan it allows the municipal committee governing the ability to provide services to the 1,000 Jews who live within the West Bank city of 220,000 Palestinians.
The 1997 Wye Agreement split the city, placing 80% of it under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority and 20% under the IDF. According to the agreement, the Hebron Municipality is expected to provide services to the Jewish community, which was prevented by the Wye Agreement from acquiring its own official status, including registration as a separate community.
Dahan said that granting official status to the municipal committee allows the Jewish community to operate its own affairs without violating the terms of the Wye Agreement.
He said the move was necessary now that Hebron was headed by a mayor, Tayseer Abu Sneineh, who had participated in a terrorist attack in which six Israelis and Jews were killed in Hebron 1980.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman
’s office said the order gave Hebron’s Jewish municipal community the status akin to a local council.
“It is very important to strengthen Hebron’s Jewish community, which for many years has fallen between the cracks when it comes to receiving municipal services,” he said.
He first announced the moved at a press conference with reporters on Tuesday.
But Peace Now
said the order had more to do with the pending evacuation of the 15 families who had illegally moved into an apartment building in Hebron known as Beit Hamachpela.
The families claim to have purchased the property five years ago, but the Civil Administration has yet to register their claim. The Abu Rajab family, who owns the structure, has denied that the building was sold.
Peace Now said that by granting an official status to the Hebron settlers, the government is formalizing the apartheid system in the city. “This step, which happened immediately following the announcement on the evacuation of the settlers who took over a house in Hebron, is another illustration of the policy of compensating the most extreme settlers for their illegal actions.”