Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit approved expropriating areas in the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hevron to renovate it and make the site accessible to people with disabilities, Jews and Arabs alike.
Defense Minister Naftali Bennett had already approved four months ago plans for the site's renovation in the 'city of the forefathers,' and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will now have to approve the expropriation of the area under the Waqf control in order to get the renovation started.
"It is first and foremost a humanitarian act," said Knesset member Kati Sheetrit of the Likud. "We must make it accessible to worshipers of all religions to freedom of religion and worship in the Cave of the Patriarchs. We must allow every Jew to connect to his heritage. We must declare that our presence as Jews in Hevron is ancient and permanent.
The Btzalmo organization''Naftali Bennett, who knows if it was not for just this time that you assumed office. Sign immediately the approval of the access and enter Jewish history as the one who liberated both humanitarian and sovereign Hevron. ''
The Justice Ministry said in response: "Recently, a legal examination of the issue of expropriation of certain areas of the Cave of the Patriarchs was made to make them accessible to persons with disabilities. The exam was done in collaboration with the Civil Administration, the Judea and Samaria Office and all relevant government ministries."
''At the end of the exam, and after a hearing by the Deputy Attorney General (Civil) held on February 23, 2020, it was found that from the legal point of view, the project of accessibility can be realized and that the decision on the matter is devoted to the political echelon. The position of the legal adviser to the government was, as stated, passed to the political echelon, including the prime minister and the defense minister on March 29, 2020, 'in the language of the response.
At the beginning of February, the Foreign and Security Committee convened for a follow-up discussion on the accessibility of the Cave of the Patriarchs, with the participation of Minister of Religious Services Yitzhak and Kenin and the head of Civil Administration Brigadier General Rasan Alian.
Roi Binyamini, head of the Palestinian branch of the National Security Headquarters, said that "in recent months there have been a number of discussions in the NSC in order to synchronize the system in favor of promoting access to the Cave of the Patriarchs. In general, the political echelon gave its agreement in principle to advance the issue, even if unilaterally, without the consent of the Palestinian side, in view of the lack of cooperation on their part."