Supreme Court Case Clears Path for New Hebron Homes

Plaintiffs ordered to pay 20,000 NIS to Hebron Jewish Community for claiming building was illegal.

2.5.22, 17:19
(Image above: Architectural rendering of new Hezekiah Quarter, Hebron.)
(Image below: Rabbi Haim Hezekiah Medini)
The Israeli Supreme Court has rejected a petition against a construction project on the Israeli side of Hebron, clearing a legal hurdle for rebuilding the Hezekiah quarter. This is the first new housing approved in 17 years.

Rabbi Haim Hezekiah Medini, for whom the new neighborhood is named, completed his Talmudic encyclopedia the Sdei Hemed there between the years 1901-1904.

The 31-unit apartment complex will be on a plot of land next to the Beit Romano building, built in 1879 by Hayyim Yisrael Romano, where Rabbi Medini once had a study center. The building and adjacent land was later sold to the fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Sholom Dovber Schneersohn of the Chabad movement in 1912 where they had a yeshiva. Today the building houses the Shavei Hebron yeshiva.

The plot of land where the construction of the new housing units is currently taking place was turned into a bus depot during the Jordanian period of 1948 – 1967.

Since 1997 the city has been divided with the Palestinian Authority controlling 80% and Israel controlling 20%. Israeli civilians are permitted access to the Israeli neighborhoods in that 20% which encompasses the old city and the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs. The land in question is located on the Israeli side.

The PA-run Hebron Municipality and the Peace Now group filed suit against the new construction in the Israeli Supreme Court. Both entities are opposed to any Israeli presence in the city. They charged that according to a construction plan for the area dating back to 1945 during the British Mandate era new buildings can only be nine meters high with only two floors, while the new apartment complex would be 24 meters high consisting of six floors.

The Hebron Municipality also charged that only they have the authority to issue permits in the city, both on the PA side and the Israeli side.

Judge Yosef Elron, Judge Alex Stein and Judge Shaul Shohat rejected their claims. They noted that the Hebron Municipality has refused to accept requests from Israelis. They also noted that there are clauses in the British Mandate era plan allowing for deviations and that the PA has built numerous buildings over 2 floors high. "It cannot be said that the planning institutions exceeded their authority, acted in bad faith or acted in extreme unreasonableness," the court stated. 
The court further stated that the IDF Civil Administration which oversees the Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria has the power to issue building permits. The court ordered both the Hebron Municipality and Peace Now to pay 10,000 NIS each to the State of Israel and the Jewish Community of Hebron.

The building project which is currently underway has gone through multiple court battles.

Dr. Noam Arnon, spokesperson for the Jewish community of Hebron stated that it was the end of a lengthy legal process “designed to try to prevent Jews in Hebron the basic human right -- to build a house.” He added that it was unfair that residents of the PA have built countless apartment complexes, shopping malls and other buildings while the Israeli residents are restricted by “mere fabricated claims.”

“It is time to remove this national disgrace from the city of forefathers and mothers, the foundation of our existence and identity in Israel,” he said.
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Hezekiah neighborhood | 17 Images
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