Some of the land on the Plugat Hamitkanim military base will be used for the new construction project..
(photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
The government on Sunday approved the establishment of a new Jewish neighborhood in the West Bank city of Hebron, the first such construction in 16 years.
The project includes a 31-unit apartment building and two kindergartens on a site off Shuhada Street, known as the Hezkiyahu neighborhood.
The Higher Planning Council for Judea and Samaria approved the project in 2017. The left-wing NGO Peace Now appealed to the Civil Administration to rescind the approval, but no judgment has been rendered.
Should the appeal be rejected, the NGO plans to turn to the High Court of Justice.
Cabinet ministers on Sunday approved a NIS 22 million budget for the project, with funds taken from other areas such as education and agriculture. It also allowed the Defense Ministry to use a portion of the adjacent Plugat Hamitkanim military base for the project, which is located next to the Hebron Yeshiva.
There are some six families who live in modular homes on the site.
Hebron’s Jewish community thanked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government for approving the project, which it said would help expand its small community in the otherwise Palestinian city.
The project is part of a “joint and determined effort to build the city of nation of Israel’s forefathers,” the community said.
It is a “victorious” response to all those who deny the Jewish connection to the city, it said.
The Jewish forefathers and foremothers are buried in Hebron’s Tomb of the Patriarchs, and Jews have lived in the area almost continuously since Biblical times.
Hebron’s Jewish community was destroyed in the 1929 Arab massacre, in which 67 Jews were killed. It was not rebuilt again until 1979.
The city of more than 220,000 Palestinians was divided in 1997, with the transference of 80% to the territory to the auspices of the Palestinian Authority. The remaining 20%, where some 1,000 Jews live in a handful of apartment complexes, is under Israeli military control.
Building approvals for the city are fairly rare.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman tweeted a congratulatory note after the government meeting and claimed credit for the project’s approval.
“This is yet another important milestone in the extensive activities we are heading to strengthen settlements in Judea and Samaria,” he wrote.
Joint List party head Aymen Odeh
said that the government had just spent NIS 22 million to “expand the occupation.”
This right-wing government is “trampling on its citizens” to “benefit a handful of extremist settlers,” Odeh said. He further charged that the government was taking steps to ignite the area, while simultaneously claiming that there is no Palestinian peace partner.
The property was owned by the original Jewish community. After 1948, the Jordanian government treated it as abandoned property and used it as a school and a bus station, under a protected tenancy agreement.
When the IDF took over Hebron in the aftermath of the Six Day War, its custodian of abandoned property respected the protected tenancy agreement and allowed the Palestinians to continue to lease the property. The IDF seized the land in the 1980s for military use.
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