In response to today's ruling by Israel's High Court of Justice (Supreme Court) regarding settler claims to ownership of a large house in Hebron, Americans for Peace Now (APN) joins its Israeli sister organization Shalom Achshav (Peace Now) in calling on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Minister of Defense Moshe Ya'alon to use their legal authority to prevent the creation of another settlement stronghold in Hebron.
The Supreme Court today rejected an appeal by two Palestinians of a lower court ruling that the property was bought legally by Jewish settlers. Following the Supreme Court ruling, the settlers could move into the house, if the Minister of Defense approves it.
APN states that today's ruling is not approval of a new settlement. It addresses only the legal technicalities involved in the settlers' acquisition of a large new property in the heart of Hebron. Regardless of the legality of this acquisition, Israeli law does not permit Israeli citizens to hijack Israel policy and Israeli national security through private purchases of property in the West Bank. Under Israeli law, a new settlement can only be established with the express authorization of the Government of Israel, in the form of permission from the Minister of Defense, who is the sovereign authority in the Occupied Territories.
APN joins Israel's Peace Now movement in calling on the Israeli government to exercise responsibility and refuse to authorize this new settlement - a settlement that would have immediate and severe political and security implications for Hebron, for the region and for the negotiations that are now taking place.
If this settlement plan is approved by the Netanyahu government, it would be a major political decision with huge negative implications for Israel and for the two-state solution. It would signal that the Israeli government is not interested in the two-state solution - a solution that is wholly incompatible with the expanded presence of extremist Israeli settlers in the heart of the most volatile city in the West Bank. It would be a slap in the face to Palestinians, who cannot fail to notice that such approval, if it happens, will coincide closely with the 20th anniversary of the 1994 Hebron Massacre, in which an extremist Israeli settler gunned down 29 Palestinians praying in the Ibrahimi Mosque / Cave of the Patriarchs. Establishment of this new settlement stronghold in Hebron would dramatically increase tensions and stoke violence. It would further disrupt the lives of Palestinian residents of the city, curtailing their movement for the benefit of settlers. And it would establish a new, major settler foothold in an area that until now the settlers have not succeeded in penetrating.
For more on the so called "House of Contention" in Hebron, click here: http://settlementwatcheastjerusalem.wordpress.com/2013/09/30/houseofcontention_hebron/