Israeli occupation authorities have advanced plans to expand the Jewish settler presence in the heart of Hebron, reported The Jerusalem Post.
According to the report, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered defence officials to allow settlers to register half of a three-storey building opposite Ibrahimi Mosque “in the name of the development company that claims to have purchased it from its Palestinian owners”.
The other half of the structure, known by settlers as ‘Beit HaMachpela’, “remains in the hands of the primary Palestinians owners, the Abu Rajab family”, the paper added.
In 2012, 2013, and 2018, settlers attempted to move into the building, prompting a Supreme Court ruling that the settlers “must wait to move into the structure until the property is registered in their name in the Land Registry”.
According to The Jerusalem Post, “Sunday’s actions offer the possibility that the families can move into the structure”, but for now, Israeli military orders barring such entry were still in force.
The lawyer for the Abu Rajab family, Samer Shehadeh, “said he planned to appeal the decision to allow the building to be registered on behalf [of the settlers]”. The Abu Rajab family “disputes the settler’s purchase claim”, the report added.
Should settlers move into the building, the paper added, “it would mark the continued expansion” of the settlers in the H2 area near the Ibrahimi Mosque.
Hagit Ofran of Peace Now urged the government not to allow settlers to move into the building.
“A responsible government is expected to refuse to submit to the dictates of an extreme minority group,” said Ofran. “It must follow a clear policy that takes into account security considerations and any future political settlement” with the Palestinians.