The Israeli government is reportedly poised to build new Jewish housing units in the West Bank city of Hebron, for the first time in ten years.
According to a report in the Haaretz daily, a handful of homes will be constructed at an outpost called Mitkanim, which is next to the Jewish Avraham Avinu neighborhood of the mostly Arab city.
Earlier this year, the Defense Ministry issued planning permits for several homes to be built at the outpost and plans are underway, although they are at an early stage, the report said.
Referring to Mitkanim, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories confirmed to Haaretz that “authorities in the area are examining returning some of the land for civilian use.”
The anti-settlement organization Peace Now slammed the plan, saying it contravenes a High Court ruling.
In 2008, Peace Now petitioned the High Court over their discovery that Jewish settlers were living in six trailers within the Mitkanim outpost, complete with yards for children’s play.
The organization used as precedent a High Court ruling from 1979 in the so-called Alon Moreh Petition, which stated that it was illegal to turn land over to civilians that had been appropriated for military use.
Peace Now’s petition was rejected in 2010, partly because of the amount of time that had elapsed since the settlers started living at the outpost, but two internal legal opinions published by the state deemed settling within a military base to be against the law.
Hebron, a primarily Palestinian city 30 kilometers (19 miles) south of Jerusalem, is a flashpoint for Israeli Jews and Palestinian Muslims and Christians, all of whom venerate the city’s tomb of the biblical patriarchs and matriarchs. Some 20% of the city is controlled by Israel.
Settlers first tried to recreate a Jewish presence in Hebron in 1968, but were moved to an area just outside, where they created the settlement of Kiryat Arba. Prime minister Menachem Begin allowed Jews to move into Hebron itself in 1979.