IDF issues expropriation order for Tomb of Patriarchs elevator project
COGAT has informed the Hebron municipality and the PA about the Civil Administration’s intent to push forward with plans for the project.
By TOVAH LAZAROFF
The IDF on Monday issued an expropriation order for the Tomb of the Patriarchs so that construction can commence on an elevator project that would make the ancient biblical site wheelchair accessible.The move bypasses Hebron’s Palestinian-run municipality, which had opposed the project. Under the 1997 Hebron agreement with the Palestinian Authority, such projects are under the auspices of the Hebron municipality.Palestinian Authority Minister for the Civilian Affairs Hussein al-Shiekh tweeted in response, “today the so-called Israeli Minister of Defense signed a decision to confiscate [and] annex parts of the Ibrahimi campus in Hebron, which is a violition of the Hebron protocol, an end of the agreement signed between the PLO and Israel [and] a continuation of the #annexation project in the [West Bank and] #Jerusalem.”The office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) said it was a “humanitarian” project that included an elevator and a ramp. At present, the only way to enter the Tomb of the Patriarchs is by climbing a long staircase.There is now a 60-day window for appeals against the project.COGAT has informed the Hebron municipality and the PA about the Civil Administration’s intent to push forward with plans for the project. It explained that the project could provide wheelchair accessibility for the Ibrahimi Mosque located in the Tomb of the Patriarchs building as well.Out of the internal consideration, Palestinian officials “rejected the proposals for making accessible the entrance that the Muslim worshipers use,” COGAT said.“Accessibility modification work on behalf of people with disabilities will not change the prayer arrangement nor the status quo at the [Tomb] of the Patriarchs,” COGAT said.Hebron’s Jewish community said, “We hope that the project will advance without interruptions and allow tens of thousands of people with disabilities to enter the Tomb of the Patriarchs easily and respectfully.”
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