Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced Wednesday that he has ordered that construction move ahead for a new residential building for the Jewish community in the West Bank city of Hebron.
A press release from Lieberman's office described the order as "advancing planning to construct a building on Jewish land over the old wholesale market in the city." The reference to Jewish land is to a site that had been privately owned by Jews before the 1948 War of Independence.
Following the war, Hebron was under Jordanian administration until Israel captured the area in the 1967 Six-Day War.
The project had been delayed for years "due to legal difficulties," the statement from Lieberman's office said, explaining that the legal adviser to the Defense Ministry, Itai Ofir, had recently issued a professional legal opinion that will enable the project to move forward.
The defense minister's statement called the building "the second residential project that the defense minister has promoted in a short period of time in Hebron, following about 20 years in which no new housing units had been built in the Jewish community" of the city.
Last month, Israel approved some 22 million shekels ($6.1 million) in government funding toward another project for Jewish settlement in Hebron, including the conversion of a former army base into housing for Jewish residents.
The building plans were developed before Lieberman took office as defense minister in May of 2016, and had already been approved by the Civil Administration for the West Bank. It is slated to include 31 housing units as well as kindergartens and public areas.
No new buildings have been constructed in the Jewish enclaves of Hebron for more than a decade, although from time to time, Jews in the city have taken possession of existing homes where Jews had not previously lived.
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