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Photo by: Ariel Jerozolimski
State may ask Hebron's Beit Ezra families to leave
By TOVAH LAZAROFF
17/12/2012
Documents suggest two Jewish families living in four rooms in Hebron’s Beit Ezra building might be forced to leave.
 
Two Jewish families living in four rooms in Hebron’s Beit Ezra building might be forced to leave, according to documents the state is expected to turn into the High Court of Justice on Monday.

The state, however, is also expected to clarify that Hebron’s Jewish community can use the property for public purposes, according to an Israeli official and Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein.

The Ministerial Committee on Settlement Affairs was initially scheduled to discuss the matter on Sunday, in advance of the state’s submission to the court. However, the meeting was canceled.

In the past, committee members have endorsed an earlier decision by a military appeals court to allow the families to rent the rooms from the Custodian of Abandoned Properties.

A Hebron Jewish family initially owned the building, which abuts the Avraham Avinu apartment complex, but was forced to leave it in 1947.

The structure then passed into the hands of the state custodian of abandoned properties, first under Jordan and then under Israel.

Until 2001, two Palestinians rented the four rooms from the custodian and used them as market stalls. At that time, the IDF forced the Palestinians to abandon the shops for security reasons.

In 2010, Peace Now petitioned the High Court of Justice on behalf of the Palestinian shopkeepers.

According to Edelstein, the state will now ask the families to leave, but will maintain the idea that the property should remain in Jewish hands.

Hebron Jewish community spokeswoman Orit Struck said she feared that the state simply planned to evacuate the two families.

She recalled that in 2006, the state similarly struck a deal with the settlers living in the evacuated market stalls.

Those stalls also abutted the Avraham Avinu complex.

The families left the stalls after the state promised that the community could use them for communal purposes.

It then reneged on its word, Struck said, so there is no reason to trust that it would honor its pledge now.
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