Fourteen Palestinian families on Monday petitioned the High Court of Justice to stop settlers from moving into a three-story building across from the Cave of the Patriarchs in the West Bank city of Hebron.
The structure, known as Beit Machpela, is near the spot where a Palestinian sniper killed an IDF soldier on Sunday.
In response, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said late Sunday night that actions should be taken to immediately allow Jewish families to move into the building.
His decision expands the Jewish areas of the West Bank city and allows an Israeli civilian presence in a Palestinian neighborhood next to the Cave of the Patriarchs.
Hebron’s Jewish community thanked Netanyahu for his decision and for working to return Jews to the city of their forefathers.
Hebron Jewish families had purchased a three-story building and moved into it at the end of March 2012. The IDF forcibly evicted them on April 4, because their purchase documents had not been authenticated and they lacked a purchase permit.
In July, a military appeals court validated their purchase of the structure, which abuts a Palestinian school and borders a section of the city under Palestinian Authority control.
Palestinians live in a small section of the building, which was not purchased by settlers.
In spite of their court victory, the Hebron families were still barred from moving into the property because they lacked a final signature of approval from Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon. He in turn was waiting for the Civil Administration to finish the authorization process for the purchase.
A part of that process allowed for an objection period.
Attorney Samer Shihadih, who represents the Palestinian families, said that he had been waiting for that objection period to assert the claims of his clients that they owned the structure.
He has asked the High Court to issue an injunction to prevent the settlers from moving into the home until the authorization process was completed and until his clients had exhausted their legal options.
Netanyahu, he said, acted in the heat of the moment, but did not have the authority to authorize the families to move in until all proper steps had been taken.
“This will be a long process,” he said.
The state has until 1 p.m. Tuesday to respond to his petition.