PMO asks IDF to delay Hebron evacuation order

IDF had ordered Hebron settlers to leave home by 3 p.m. Tuesday; Defense Ministry sticking to original schedule.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
April 2, 2012 20:00
3 minute read.
PM Netanyahu speaks at President's Residence

Netanyahu waves 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

 
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The Prime Minister's office on Monday night asked the Defense Ministry to delay Tuesday's 3 p.m. evacuation order for the West Bank Hebron apartment building, to give the 15 Jewish families there the opportunity to make their legal case heard.

The Defense Ministry, however, is holding to its original schedule.

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Sources in the ministry said that the request was to allow the building's inhabitants the opportunity to present their legal arguments, and that this could be done within the evacuation order's time frame.

A source said that 3 p.m. was the deadline for the inhabitants to willingly leave, but was not necessarily the time by which the IDF would forcibly remove them.

The IDF had issued the evacuation order earlier Monday against the three story structure called "Beit HaMachpela" (House of the Patriarchs), giving the settlers there just 24 hours to leave.

A number of high-level members of Knesset condemned the order of evacuation facing settlers in the "Beit Hamachpela" (House of the Patriarchs) apartment building, labeling the move "underhanded" and "unacceptable," and calling for the the prime minister to intervene and rescind the order.

On Thursday, some 15 Jewish families from Hebron and the nearby Kiryat Arba settlement moved into the vacant three-story apartment building without the proper permits.

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The Hebron families said they purchased the apartment building from its Palestinian owner and moved in at this time because the structure was vacant, and they feared Palestinians would take over the building. It is located across a small park from the Cave of the Patriarchs, in a Palestinian neighborhood under Israeli military control.

The police and the Civil Administration were investigating the legality of the sale.

The IDF, however, ordered the families out of the home because it said their presence disturbs the public order.

Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein protested the move. "It is unacceptable," he said.

MK Michael Ben Ari noted that the IDF's excuse could be used to evacuate any Judea and Samaria resident from his or her home.

Right-wing MKs, particularly from the Knesset Land of Israel lobby have called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to revoke the IDF order.

Interior Minister Eli Yishai wrote to Netanyahu Monday afternoon asking him to intervene.

"I ask you to instruct the defense establishment to exercise discretion before any future action is taken," Yishai wrote in a letter to Netanyahu. Saying the house in question was bought at full price, Yishai said the Jewish families entered it legally.

The government, the interior minister added, should strengthen and not make life more difficult for Jewish residents of Hebron. "I ask that you personally review the facts in a fair and balanced fashion."

The head of the Council for Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip said the evacuation order amounts to a distortion of justice and discrimination.

"The request to evacuate the 'Beit Hamachpela' (House of the Patriarchs) after its purchase was reviewed and deemed sound is a total distortion of justice, and intolerable discrimination," Dani Dayan said Monday via a written statement.

"It carries the name of security in vain," he charged.

Dayan compared the situation in Hebron to that of the Migron outpost, where the High Court of Justice ordered the state to evacuate settlers living there because they were occupying land classified as belonging to private Palestinians.

"In Migron they explained to us that the right to property is sacred... but when the owners are Jews, then all of this is forgotten," Dayan said.

Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar decried the fact that the IDF decision came prior to Netanyahu's scheduled ministerial meeting, adding that "if the house was purchased legally, there is no justification for evacuating the residents."

Since Thursday, Border Police have blocked off the building and only the families who moved in, and politicians, have been allowed access.

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