Defense Minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday ordered the Civil Authority and the IDF Coordinator for relations with the Palestinian Authority to inform the Chevron municipality that Israel intended to build a new neighborhood for Jews in the area of the Chevron wholesale market. The move is expected to launch lawsuits by Arabs seeking to prevent construction of the neighborhood.
The wholesale market area has been closed for many years, after Arabs rioted in the wake of the death of dozens of Arabs in a shooting at Me’aras Hamachpelah in 1994. The area, adjacent to an area where a Jewish community is located, was for years a focal point for terror activity. Several court cases have established that most of the buildings in the market area were owned by Jews, with Arabs occupying them after Jews were chased out of the city after the 1929 Chevron pogroms.
With the return of Jews to Chevron in 1967, the Jewish owners of the buildings have sought repatriation, and the Jewish community has petitioned numerous governments to allow Jewish settlement in the area. There were various attempts over the years by Jews to settle in the market, but all efforts were stymied by the IDF.
Officals of the Chevron Jewish community praised Bennett for “taking an action that rights a historical injustice. The Jewish people have been waiting for this day for 90 years. We are deeply grateful to Minister Bennett for his decision to return Jewish property to the Jewish community.”
Democratic Camp MK Tamar Zandberg slammed the decision, decrying“those who establish a Jewish community in the midst of the capital of apartheid in Israel, instead of dismantling the messianic group that is harming the future of Israel. The Jewish community in Chevron is already a center of fascistic Kahanism in Israel, and establishment of a new community there is another victory for Kahanism, and a loss for Israel.”