The Hezkiyahu neighborhood in Hebron, where the new construction will be..
(photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
The government on Sunday is set to approve a budget of NIS 22 million for a 31-unit housing complex – the first in 16 years – to be constructed in the West Bank city of Hebron.
The project will be located in the Hezkiyahu neighborhood, off of Shuhadah Street, also called King David Street, where some six families live in modular homes next to the Hebron Yeshiva and an IDF base called Plugat Hamitkanim.
The Higher Planning Council for Judea and Samaria approved the project in 2017. The Left-wing NGO Peace Now appealed the decision, and has yet to hear a response from the Civil Administration.
Should its appeal be rejected, Peace Now has said it plans to turn to the High Court of Justice in an attempt to halt the project.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said, “We continue to strengthen the settlements in Judea and Samaria with deeds and not with words.”
Peace Now said that: “The government continues to waste public funds on construction for a hallucinatory settlement in the heart of a Palestinian population. Hebron is the settlement that does the most harm to Israel’s good name. Instead of evacuating it, the government has caved in to extremists. It is trying with force to complicate matters for Israel and distance us from peace.”
With elections in the air, Liberman has sought “to flatter the extreme right at the expense of Israel’s interests,” the NGO said.
Meretz Party head Tamar Zandberg charged that Israel’s “pyromaniac government” was igniting the situation in Hebron by taking NIS 22 million from other ministers such as education, culture and agriculture.
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Since 1997, the city of over 220,000 Palestinians has been divided, according to the terms laid out in the Hebron Agreement. Some 80% of the city is under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority while the remainder is under Israeli military rule, where about 1,000 Jews live. Israel has restricted Jewish growth in the city.
The Hezkiyahu neighborhood
is part of what was once Jewish Hebron, before the community was destroyed in 1929 when Arab rioters killed 67 Jews.
In 1917, British police commandeered property for its headquarters that belonged to the Lubavitcher Rebbe. The Jordanian government took over the property when it controlled the West Bank from 1948 to 1967, using it for a school and a bus terminal.
The Rebbe gave the property to Hebron’s current Jewish community, after it began living in the city in 1979.
The Jewish community, however, could not use the property, because it was controlled first by the Custodian of Government Property. It gave the Palestinian-run Hebron municipality the same protected tenancy rights to the land that it had received from Jordan.
In the 1980s, however, the IDF seized the land for military use and the bus station was relocated.
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