Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday approved the planning of a new Jewish neighborhood in Hebron.
The decision comes after years of legal battles between the city’s Jewish and Arab residents over the fate of a marketplace in the city that has been vacant for years.
The new neighborhood would create territorial continuity from Kever ha Machpelah to the Avraham Avinu neighborhood, doubling the number of Jewish residents in the city. About 600 Jews now live in compact areas comprising about 3-percent of Hebron, a city with over 215,000 Arabs.
The market buildings, which were owned by Jews prior to the 1929 Hebron Massacre, would be destroyed and several apartment blocks built with as many as 70 units in total, a spokesman for the Jewish community said.
Due to legal requirements, the ground floor of the buildings will be reserved for market stalls, although it is unlikely that Palestinian tradesmen will gain access to the old market area due to security considerations, the Jerusalem Post reported.
The Jewish community said the move “will restore Jewish life to Jewish property in Hebron. Removing the land of those who were murdered from the hands of the murderous mayor of Hebron” is a matter of “historic justice for which the Jewish people had been waiting for 90 years.”
Separately on Sunday, during the weekly Security Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu requested approval of a NIS 40 million ($11.5 million) security budget for Judea and Samaria. “We will fight terrorism. They will not uproot us from here. This is our land,” he said.