Authorities OK Plans for Jewish Homes in Chevron

General view of the Cave of the Patriarchs and Tel Rumeida neighborhood in the west bank city of Hebron, Nov 19 2007. Photo by Nati Shohat/Flash90 *** Local Caption *** ????? ???? ??????
General view of the Me’aras Hamachpelah and Tel Rumeida neighborhood in Chevron. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Israeli authorities have granted preliminary permission for the planning of new Israeli homes in the city of Chevron.

The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the defense body responsible for civilian affairs in Yehudah and Shomron, confirmed on Monday that permission was given for planning infrastructure.

This ends a freeze on the building of new housing for Jews in the city for over a decade.

The Defense Ministry, which must grant approval for expansions in Jewish communities in Yehudah and Shomron, has already given the proposed housing project its blessing.

About 1,000 Jewish residents live in heavily fortified enclaves in Chevrons among tens of thousands of Arabs. The Jewish residents say they are returning to properties that belonged to Jews before they fled following deadly Arab riots in 1929, despite claims by left-wing groups that the land was requisitioned from the Palestinian-run municipality for military use and will be converted to residential construction.

Defense Ministry officials stressed that the land set aside for the project was owned and inhabited by Jews decades before the establishment of the State of Israel.

Yishai Fleisher, a spokesman for the Jewish community of Chevron, welcomed the plan for expansion, saying it “would be good news for the Jewish community here.” However, he said there are no building plans yet.

If it survives the long approval process, the project will be the first for Jews in the city since an apartment complex was inaugurated in April 2005 in the neighborhood of Tel Rumeida.