Expulsion from 'Peace House' in Hevron?

Defense Minister Amir Peretz is expected to decide Wednesday whether to order the expulsion of Jews from their newly-acquired building in Hevron.

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Hana Levi Julian,

Cave of the Patriarchs, Hevron.
Cave of the Patriarchs, Hevron.
Defense Minister Amir Peretz is expected to decide Wednesday afternoon whether to order the expulsion of Jews from their newly-acquired building in Hevron. He said, however, that he plans to speak with the army’s legal advisors before making a final decision.

More than 200 Jews, mostly yeshiva students from the Hevron area, moved into the building two days ago after purchasing it two years ago via a Jordanian businessman. A picture of the building can be seen here.

The building is well known to the IDF because it is often used by soldiers on security duty during Friday prayers at the nearby Cave of the Patriarchs. Local military commanders told reporters there is no problem with the Jewish residents’ presence in the building from a security standpoint.

The police and IDF have avoided becoming involved in the controversy until a decision has been made regarding the legality of the purchase.

According to one report, the decision to enter the building now was reached after the Jews of Hevron received information that Arabs intended to enter the building in the near future.

The house, which is only partially built and stood empty, is strategically located in a spot overlooking the "Worshippers Route" leading from Kiryat Arba to the Cave of Patriarchs. It is not hooked up to water lines or the electricity grid at this point. A generator similar to those used by Israeli Bedouin whose villages are not recognized by the government has been set up to accommodate the new residents. Water will brought in.

Hevron Jewish Council spokesman Noam Arnon says at least 20 families will move into the building once renovations are completed.

The extreme-left group Peace Now has been pressuring Peretz to expel the Jewish families, claiming that Jews should need special government permission to buy Arab houses. The group has made no similar request requiring special permission for Arabs to buy Jewish homes.