On October 14 the Israeli government announced its plans to build 31 additional illegal settlements in the West Bank city of Hebron.
A budget of 22 million shekels ($6 million USD) has been approved for the construction of 31 units, two kindergartens, a daycare center and a public park in the H2 area of Hebron.
The Hebron Protocol signed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat in 1997 saw Hebron divided into two sections.
accounts for 80 percent of the city and lies under Palestinian control. The H2 area is under Israeli control.
It would be the first expansion in the area for 16 years.
Israeli settlers have not received building approvals from the Civil Administration since 2002, when 10 housing units were approved for the Tel Rumeida neighbourhood.
The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs strongly opposed the planned construction and warned of serious repercussions of an Israeli expansion project of the old city of al-Khalil.
The site of the considered development sits between the illegal settlement of Beit Roman and Al-Shuhada Street.
Israel claims the land was owned by a Jewish family before 1948.
Palestinians used it as a bus station until 1981 when it was confiscated by the IDF and turned into a military base.
The base will be downsized to accommodate the new illegal constructions.
Some 500 settlers live in Hebron, in four illegal enclaves heavily guarded by the IDF.
Tens of thousands of Palestinians live in Hebron, making it the largest city in the West Bank.
Home to the Tomb of the Patriarchs, a site holy to both Jews and Muslims, the city sees frequent clashes and violence.
Israeli left-wing party Meretz Chairman, Tamar Zandberg called supporters of the plan ‘pyromaniacs,’ arguing the construction is worsening ‘the most extreme, dangerous and destructive settlement.
“The settlement in Hebron must be evacuated, certainly not expanded.” said Zandberg.
However Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman showed his support for the plan.
Another important milestone in the extensive activity we are leading to strengthen settlement in Judea and Samaria, he said, referring to the West Bank by its biblical term.
The approval of new construction is considered part of Israel’s reaction to a UNESCO vote that declared the Tomb of the Patriarchs and the City of Hebron a Palestinian Heritage Site in danger.
Both Israel and the United States withdrew from UNESCO shortly afterwards.
An estimated 196 Israeli settlements have been built throughout the Occupied West Bank, which are illegal under international law.
Source: Palestine Monitor