The 40-dunam compound that will be a new tourist center in Gush Etzion.
(photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon placed what will be a new 4-hectare Jewish tourist center under the auspices of the Gush Etzion Regional Council, thereby expanding it.
The move makes it easier for settlers to further develop the site.
Settlers do not have permission to live on the grounds of what will be called in Hebrew Beit Bracha and is known in Arabic as Beit al-Baraka, but they can operate it as a tourist center.
The site, which has eight stone buildings, is located off of Route 60 and across the road from the Palestinian refugee camp al-Arroub.
Its use as an active site expands the slim Jewish holdings in the section of the West Bank that extends from the Gush Etzion junction to the Kiryat Arba settlement. The only other Jewish enclave along that stretch of Route 60 is the settlement of Karmei Tzur.
Council head Davidi Perl said he was glad to have received the authorization, but called on the Defense Ministry to green-light more Jewish construction in his region.
“The settlements in Gush Etzion are built on land that was purchased by Jews or on state land.
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“All that is needed is for the defense minister to advance and approve zoning plans and construction projects,” Perl said.
Avi Ro’eh, who heads the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria, also called on Ya’alon and the government to authorize more building plans.
“We’re tired of the promises and excuses on the part of politicians, who ran for office on a platform of building and strengthening the settlement enterprise,” Ro’eh said.
MK Bezalel Smotrich (Bayit Yehudi) said Ya’alon had not only exercised the rights of the Jewish people who had returned to their homeland but had also delivered the correct Zionist response to the wave of terrorism.
The Gush Etzion junction has been one of the sites of repeated terrorist attacks in the last few months.
“Our enemies have to know that our roots will only deepen in those places in which they have tried to uproot us,” Smotrich said.
The site of Beit Bracha was owned by the Presbyterian Church in the United States until 2008. It had first operated a tuberculosis hospital there and then a hostel.
In 2008 Scandinavian Seaman Holland Enterprises purchased the compound. In 2012 American millionaire Irving Moskowitz became the site’s owner.
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