The Israeli government approved today (14 October 2018) the allocation of NIS 21.6 million ($5.96 million) from various government ministries for the construction of a project of 31 housing units in the heart of the Palestinian city of Hebron. The Ministries of Environmental Protection, Social Equality, Interior, Justice and others will all allocate millions of the funds earmarked for their office so that the public will pay NIS 700,000 for each apartment in Hebron.
This is an exceptional budget allocation for a construction project. The planned project, “Hezekiah Quarter,” is located in the heart of the Palestinian city of Hebron, in an area seized by the IDF for security purposes to build a military base. In order to enable the construction, the military base is to be moved at a cost of NIS 21.6 million.
It is important to note that the area was used until the 1980s as the main bus station of Palestinian Hebron, and was seized for security reasons to establish a military base to protect the settlers in the city. According to the law, when those security reasons expire, the land must be returned to the owners of the rights to it, and the municipality of Hebron is considered a protected tenant that leases the land.
The area was owned by Jews prior to 1948, but it was leased under protected tenancy by the Jordanian authorities and then by the Israeli military government to the Hebron Municipality. The government’s intention to use Jewish ownership prior to 1948 as an excuse to establish a settlement today undermines the moral basis of the Israeli position of opposing the Palestinian right of return, because it effectively accepts the right of return for the Jews.
The Hebron Municipality, as well as Peace Now, submitted appeals against the approval of the construction permit for this project that was given without proper planning procedures, and as mentioned above, is in violation of the Hebron Municipality’s rights to the property under protected tenancy. To date, no decision has been published on these appeals submitted.
Peace Now: “The government is again wasting millions of shekels of public funds in order to placate a fringe radical minority. The settlement that is most damaging to Israel’s reputation is Hebron, and instead of evacuating it, it appears that the government is trying by force to further entangle Israel and to exacerbate the conflict.”
For more information on the Hezekiah Quarter settlement project in Hebron, click here.