Peace Now may turn to High Court over Hebron marketplace

Group wants to Jewish families to stop using former Palestinian shops as bedrooms.

hebron evacuation 298.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
hebron evacuation 298.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Peace Now may petition the High Court of Justice to force two Hebron families to quit using two former Palestinians shops as bedrooms. The structures abut the settlers' otherwise legal apartments in the Avraham Avinu neighborhood. The two families have been given eviction notices for those shops, but have appealed to a military committee. On Thursday the committee decided that the two families could continue to make use of the shops as spare bedrooms until a final ruling was handed down. In return, the settlers have agreed that at the end of the proceeding, and failing further appeals, they would leave the property peacefully, according to Hebron Jewish spokeswoman Orit Struck. She said she was pleased that, in making its ruling, the committee appeared to accept their point that it was better for the settlers to be in the shops than to have them remain empty. The shops had been inhabited by Palestinians until the mid-1990s, when the state forced the merchants to leave the marketplace area near the Avraham Avinu neighborhood. Since then the shops have been empty. "Given that the state does not intend to allow the Palestinians to return, it is better that we remain there," said Struck, who added however, that this point was not the crux of their argument. Hebron settlers have claimed that they have a right to the shops because they were owned by Jews before the destruction of the Hebron Jewish community in 1929. In this case, Struck said, she is of the belief that the descendants of the original owners of these two shops would support their presence there. Hagit Ofran, of Peace Now, protested the decision by the military committee, which, she said, was simply an attempt to delay the inevitable evacuation of the two families from the shops. It was this same committee which delayed for years the eviction of eight families who were eventually forced to leave nearby shops in the same marketplace area in 2006, Ofran said.