Defence Minister approves establishment of new Israeli neighbourhood in Hebron

December 2, 2019 by Arye Green -TPS
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Defence Minister Naftali Bennett has ordered the IDF’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) and the Civil Administration (CA) in Judea and Samaria to notify the Hebron municipality of Israel’s plans to build a new neighbourhood in the city.

Visitors walk near the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron as thousands of people arrived to the city to spend there the annual Shabbat Hebron, Parshat Chayei Sarah. Hebron, Nov 22, 2019. Photo by Maayan Berrebi/TPS

The establishment of a new Israeli neighbourhood in the market complex in Hebron has been a highly contentious issue for many years, due to a dispute on the matter between the Israeli and the Arab residents of the city.

The planning process will soon begin after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would promote the establishment of the neighbourhood.

Bennett made the decision after extensive discussions on the matter with COGAT and CA representatives, as well as other security agencies.

The Jewish residents of the city-owned the market area in Hebron but lost it in 1929 when Arab rioters murdered 67 Jewish residents, causing the survivors of the massacre to flee and abandon their property.

After the 1967 Six-Day War, when Israel regained control of the area, the government allowed the Arab Hebron municipality to build a  market that was active until the mid-1990s. Following the second Intifada, when several terror attacks took place in the Jewish neighbourhood of Hebron, the market was closed for security reasons.

According to the plan, the market structures will be demolished new buildings will replace them. The property rights over the ground floor, which are held by Arab residents of Hebron, will be preserved as they are today.

The Hebron Protocol of 1997 divided the city into two sectors – H1, controlled by the Palestinian Authority (PA), and H2, approximately 20% of the city, administered by Israel. The Jewish community resides within the Israeli controlled part of the city.

The new neighbourhood will create an important territorial continuum for the Israeli residents of the city and could double the number of residents in the Jewish community.

Yesha Council Chairman David Alheyani commended the decision to approve the new Jewish neighbourhood in Hebron, the city that includes the burial site of the biblical Patriarchs.

“We thank Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Naftali Bennett for approving the planning of the new Jewish neighbourhood in the Hebron market. We are pleased to see that the issue has been approved, and we can now start moving towards the construction of a new neighbourhood in the City of the Patriarchs,” he said.

Hebron Mayor Tayseer Abu Snina claimed the decision to build a new Jewish neighbourhood in the city is an “attack on Hebron” and that Naftali Bennett will “face the consequences of his decision.”

A former terrorist, Abu Snina was convicted of heading a team that committed a terror attack in Hebron in 1980, in which three Israelis, two Americans, and one Canadian were killed, and another 20 Jews were injured.

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