The Supreme Court rejected on Thursday an appeal against the construction of a new Jewish neighborhood in Hebron's Old City, removing the final legal hurdle for the project.
The decision may affect the approval of another proposed Jewish neighborhood in Hebron, a major Palestinian city in the southern West Bank, despite violations of municipal planning regulations.
Construction work in "Hezekiah Quarter," the neighborhood the court decided on on Thursday, is already underway. Once completed, it is expected to consist of 31 housing units.
The appeal, the latest is a series of legal challenges to the project, was filed by anti-settlement NGO Peace Now and the city of Hebron. They argued that the construction permit given to the project exceeds the Old City's urban building plan, and that the Defense Ministry's Civil Administration had exceeded its authority in pushing the plan through.
The appellants claimed that any neighborhoods in the area can't erect buildings that are taller than 9 meters (about 30 feet) and has more than two floors. The new project includes a 24-meter six-story building.
The city of Hebron also said that construction projects in the city fall under its jurisdiction, rather than the Civil Administration's planning board.
Despite these claims, Justices Yosef Elron, Alex Stein and Shaul Shohat rejected the appeal, upholding the district court's ruling. They accepted the state's argument that since that city of Hebron doesn't promote planning requests of Jewish neighborhoods, the Civil Administration must do it instead.
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The justices ordered each of the appellants to pay 10,000 shekels ($3,000) to the state and to the Jewish settlement in Hebron.
Peace Now said in response that "building a new settlement at the heart of Hebron causes tremendous damage to Israel and contrasts the fundamental values of the government. After the Supreme Court decided to not get involved, the government must act at once to stop the disastrous construction before it's finished."