Israel to issue building permits for 31 Hebron homes before US election

The issuance of a permit is symbolic, because a Jerusalem District Court ordered injunction prevents construction of the project.

The Hezkiyahu neighborhood in Hebron. (photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
The Hezkiyahu neighborhood in Hebron.
(photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
The IDF is set to issue a building permit for 31 apartment units for what will be a new Jewish apartment complex, in the Hizkiyahu quarter in the West Bank city of Hebron.
The decision to allow the Higher Planning Council for Judea and Samaria to push forward the project, follows its advancement and approval earlier this month of plans for 5,288 settler homes.
These steps belie claims that a de facto freeze is in place with regard to settlement planning in light of the Israeli normalization deals with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. They also come in advance of the November 3 presidential election in the United States. Support for Israel and the settlement movement is viewed as part of incumbent US President Donald Trump’s campaign.
The left-wing group Peace Now linked the permit with the elections, in a statement it issued on Tuesday.
“The attempt to squeeze in this construction of 31 settlement units before the US election is an unscrupulous act that threatens Israel’s national interest and relations on the world stage,” Peace Now said.
The issuance of a permit is symbolic, because a Jerusalem District Court ordered injunction prevents construction of the project.
The state, however, notified the court that it intends to issue the permit given that it believes the injunction bars construction but not planning.
A permit for the project, which will be located on Shuhada Street in Hebron, was first issued in 2017, according to Peace Now, and NIS 21.6 million in government funds was allocated for the project the next year.
The Palestinian Hebron Municipality and Peace Now appealed to the district court against the project and the case is still pending.
 Hebron’s Jewish community spokesman, Yishai Fleisher took issue with the lawsuit, and welcomed the state’s decision.
“Peace Now is a European-funded extreme-left organization, which does not recognize Jewish rights in Judea. Thankfully, the Knesset, the Prime Minister's office, and now the Civil Authority - and soon the courts - will green-light this project and allow Jewish life to thrive in Hebron,” he said.
“In 1836, the land in question was bought by Avraham Yisrael Romano from Arabs and he built a large house there. It was purchased from his heirs in 1912 by Chabad Lubavitch which opened a Torah study institution there,” Fleisher said.
“The property was taken by the Turks in 1914 and was not returned to Jewish hands in the British and Jordanian period. Finally, after Israel’s return to Hebron in the 1967 Six Day War, and after the murder of 6 students in Hebron in 1980, the property was returned to Jewish hands.
“The successful Yeshivat Shavei Hebron was built on part of the lot. Now, finally, the Israeli government has recognized the Jewish rights in the rest of the property – and we thank them. Soon, Hebron will have space for 30 new families to live and thrive in the City of Abraham,” Fleisher said.
The property, however, was leased first by the Jordanian government and then by the Hebron municipality from 1948 and into the 1980s, so that it could be used as a bus station. It was seized by the IDF for military use and the bus station was relocated.
Initially Israel held that the land could not be used for residential purposes, because the Palestinians had a protected lease for the site.
A new legal opinion, however, was issued during Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s tenure that allowed for its use, thereby paving the way for the project's approval.
According to Peace Now, the construction of the modern six-story apartment building is a violation of the existing zoning law, which limits construction to two floors.
“According to the planning laws it is clear that the proposed project is contrary to the provisions of the existing plan and in a normal situation a detailed plan should have been prepared that would approve such anomalies,” Peace Now said.
But the group overall does not believe that Jews should have a presence in the largely Palestinian city.
“The settlement in Hebron is the ugly face of Israeli control of the West Bank. The moral and political price of having a settlement in Hebron is unbearable. To protect a handful of settlers in the city, the IDF is taking extreme measures against the Palestinian population including closing shops and businesses, closing streets to vehicular traffic and even banning Palestinians from walking down the street,” Peace Now said.