Hebron Wholesale Market to be Returned to Jewish Hands

Defense Ministry issues statement allowing new housing to be built on land expropriated by Jordan in 1948.

1.12.19, 23:04
212 years after it was purchased by the Jewish community, an important piece of property has passed a key hurdle in finally being rebuilt. What became the Arab wholesale market in the 1960s was once home to a thriving Jewish community including the Beit Yaakov synagogue and other sites which the Jordanians destroyed.
On December 1, 2019 Defense Minister Naftali Bennett ordered the IDF Civil Administration to notify the Palestinian Authority's Hebron Municipality, which controls 80% of the city, of its plans to rebuild the site.

The land in question is on the Israeli's side of Hebron, about a 5 - 10 minutes walk from the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs and directly in front of the historic Avraham Avinu neighborhood.

After Israel reclaimed Hebron in the Six Day War of 1967, the government continued to allow Arab merchants to lease the fruit and vegetable stalls the Jordanians built. When Jewish residents attempted to refurbish the empty stalls as habitable living quarters, the Hebron Municipality took the issue to the Israeli Supreme Court.

Now the red tape has been mostly cleared for the old stalls to be demolished to make way for as many as 70 new residential housing units. The ground floor has been reserved as market stalls to fulfill court demands.

The decision was made after a series of discussions held by the Defense Minister with the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, the Civil Administration, the General Security Service and other security agencies.
Representatives of the Jewish community responded positively to the announcement, calling it "an act of historic justice. We have been looking forward to it for 90 years." They also thanked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, former Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, and a long list of ministers, Members of Knesset, activists, friends and supporters of Hebron, who worked tirelessly to have the area repatriated by descendants and supporters of the original residents.
The 1929 massacre in which mobs of angry local Arabs raped, tortured and murdered their Jewish neighbors resulted in the British deporting all Jewish residents of the city. The abandoned property was taken over by the Arab residents and later by the invading Jordanians in 1948 who banned all Jews from visiting the city.

The Jewish community noted the current mayor of Hebron, Tayseer Abu Sneineh is a convicted terrorist who participated in the 1980 ambush that killed six people outside Beit Hadassah. Abu Sneineh was later release in a prisoner exchange deal and elected in 2017. The Jewish community has a separate Israeli city council.

The announcement comes two weeks after the US State Department announced it does not consider Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria to be illegal. Hebron is a prime example of why many legal experts do not believe Israeli settlements in the West Bank contradict the Fourth Geneva Convention. Rather than a foreign entity moving their population into conquered territory, Israeli's have returned to their indigenous homeland. In the case of the wholesale market, the original deeds, signed in Arabic, still hold up court.

MK Ayelet Shaked called the move “a historic and important decision. As justice minister I worked for two years to free the land from a legal entanglement in which it was for many years, and the neighborhood had waited about a year for the defense minister's approval. Bennett’s courageous decision will boost the Jewish community and develop the city.”
She added, "the land of those killed during the Hebron massacre in 1929 has been in the hands of the mayor of Hebron, a murderer, until now. Now Bennett took this land from the hands of a terrorist and will establish a Jewish neighborhood there."
The Betar Zionist Youth Movement released a statement praising the news as well, and urged the government to approve more building projects throughout Judea and Samaria, the areas often termed occupied territories.
The Palestinian Authority side of Hebron is the largest and most industrialized city in the West Bank and accounts for 33% of the PA’s gross national product.
The building project will be the second to be approved in recent years, the previous one being the nearby Hezekiah neighborhood in 2017. Political pressure has prevented Hebron from natural growth with the last new building project being in 2002. Purchases of existing property by Israelis has also been met with legal hurdles.
 For a full history of the wholesale market click here:

Wholesale Market / Mitzpe Shalhevet | 16 Images
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