State Turns Back on Hevron Jewish Claim

The State Prosecution, reversing a previous decision, says Jews should be evicted from an ancient Jewish area in Hevron.

Hillel Fendel ,

Machpelah Cave
Machpelah Cave

The State Prosecution says a recent decision allowing Jews to reside in several homes near the old Jewish marketplace in Hevron should be overturned and that the Jews should be evicted.

The legal battle revolves around a Jewish family living in an old store built several decades ago by the Jordanians on Jewish-owned property, and another family residing in a room it added to an existing home.

The Military Appellate Committee decided two months ago that the Jews need not be evicted. But in the wake of an appeal by the extremist-left Peace Now group, the Prosecution now wishes to repeal that decision.

The stated reason for the change in position: Concern for the rule of law.  In its statement to the Court, the Prosecution writes, "The Appellate Committee's decision to issue an order preventing the eviction of the infiltrators does not give appropriate weight to the importance of maintaining law, or to the grave harm that will be caused to the rule of law if the legally-ungrounded infiltrators remain in the stores."

"Therefore," the Prosecution continues, "this is a decision that is unreasonable in an extreme manner, to the extent that justifies the intervention of the honorable Court."

Hevron Jewish Community spokesman David Wilder said, "We're dealing with Jewish property whose owner - Yosef Ezra, whose family lived here for hundreds of years - has declared that he wants us to live there, until the property can returned to him legally."

According to Wilder, the IDF has stated that the Arab stores which were built on the Jewish property should never be reopened because of security dangers they represent to the nearby Jewish Community. "The fact that the State Prosecution is backing Peace Now's claim is so blatantly political and against Jewish Hevron that it seems we're dealing more with a Bolshevik regime than with legal democratic issues," Wilder said.

Eldad Withdraws "Evict Arabs from Hevron" Bill
Last week, MK Yossi Beilin, chairman of the extreme left-wing Meretz party, submitted legislation in the Knesset calling for the expulsion of all Jews from Hevron. In response, MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union), introduced a similar bill that merely substituted the words "Palestinians of Hevron" for "Jewish Community of Hebron."  When Arabs and other MKs shouted that a bill calling for the expulsion of Arabs was racist, Eldad said, "So is Beilin's bill."  The Beilin bill was then defeated by a 47-11 margin, and Eldad did not bring his bill to a vote.

Hevron Jewish Community spokesman David Wilder feels that the Jews in Hevron are suffering from the plans being made for the Annapolis summit next month.  He explained that Olmert will need to make a significant concession: "It won't be Jerusalem, for that's still too sticky an issue. Nor can it be a Palestinian state - that's already old hat. So it will have to be a commitment to remove the Jews from the most sensitive settlement of all - Hevron." 

Wilder says that U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice is exerting great pressure to this end.

Up to 20,000 Jews are expected to visit Hevron this coming Sabbath, in an annual commemoration of the purchase of the Machpelah Cave by Patriarch Abraham, as recorded in the weekly Torah portion of Chayeh Sarah (Genesis Ch. 24-25).