Wholesale market complex in Hevron
Wholesale market complex in Hevron David Wilder

An opinion by defense establishment legal advisor General Itai Ophir, drawing up a legal outline to allow for the first time Jewish construction in the wholesale market complex in Hevron, purchased by Jews over 150 years ago, was published today.

About nine months ago, then-Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman announced promoting construction for Jews in the wholesale market in Hevron, which is part of Sefardic community property in the city.

Liberman said at the time that he had a new legal opinion to facilitate the move, which was drafted by Attorney General Advocate Itai Ophir and which received the court's approval.

However, the opinion itself was never published, and the defense establishment explained that it was an internal document that was not required to be published.

According to the publication, a "paraphrase" written by the Defense Ministry on the opinion indicates that it is changing the previous legal position held by the defense establishment, according to which it was not possible to build a place for the Jews.

25 years ago following the killing in the Patriarchs Cave, Muslims who were in sheltered housing were evacuated from the shops and the residential market has been deserted ever since. The paraphrase states that the new opinion does not re-examine the question the right to protected tenancy in the market complex, but according to the author of the opinion, the interpretation that has hitherto been this right is expansive and unjustified.

"The (old) opinion relates to the interpretation that the entire complex has been rented to the Hevron municipality, and therefore the protected tenancy right extends to the entire complex on that which is built and that which is non-built, from the depths of the earth all the way up to the heavens. And the reasonable interpretation is that the right to protected tenancy is only in the buildings themselves and in their access ways."

The paraphrase document shows that according to the new opinion, apartments may be built for Jews above existing stores, and because of the condition of the shops, they may also be demolished and new buildings built, provided that the first floor will remain protected housing held by the Hevron municipality.