JERUSALEM (Sep. 14)
Religious Affairs Minister Yitzhak Raphael demanded yesterday that Jews be permitted to settle in Hebron. He also demanded the return of property abandoned in Hebron when the Jewish community there was dispossessed during the Arab riots in 1929.
Raphael made his remarks during a tour of the religious Jewish township of Kiryat Arba built in recent years on the outskirts of Arab-populated Hebron on the West Bank. Tension between the two communities flared yesterday when army bulldozers demolished a house constructed by an Arab family without permission of the military government.
The building was in an area earmarked to become an industrial zone of Kiryat Arba. Jewish residents summoned the Military Governor of Hebron, Lt. Yehoshua Ben Shahal who ordered the Arabs to tear down the structure. When they refused, soldiers were ordered to carry out the demolition. Mayor Fahed Kawassme of Hebron has lodged an official protest.
Military Government sources said that the army prevented Jewish attempts to construct buildings without permits and would adopt the same policy toward the Arabs. The reference was to attempts by the Gush Emunim movement to establish a settlement near Kiryat Arba.
Raphael maintained that Jewish settlement in Hebron would not conflict with Israel’s overall policy of seeking peace with the Arabs. He said the government’s guidelines permitted Jews to settle anywhere in the country and that this should apply to all of Jerusalem. There are no official restrictions on Jewish settlement in Jerusalem but in practice the government authorizes dwellings only within the Jewish quarter of the Old City.