Jewish Settlement Expanded in Two West Bank Locations

The compound of the old bus station in central Hebron will soon serve as dormitory buildings for students of the nearby Shavei Hebron yeshiva, Danny Naveh, media adviser to Defense Minister Moshe Arens, announced Monday.

The bus station was confiscated by the army several years ago, following a terrorist attack. The buses were relocated away from the center of the predominantly Arab West Bank city.

For years, the army has resisted pressures by Jewish settlers to expand the Jewish Quarter of Hebron. Monday’s decision creates a territorial continuum of Jewish settlement from the Jewish Quarter to the heart of the Arab section of the city.

Local Palestinians said the army’s move was a reprisal for the stabbing of a resident of the Jewish Quarter last week. They charged that the army once again has bent to the will of Jewish extremists in the city.

In another development, the Defense Ministry on Monday confirmed reports that 15 families have been allowed to settle in Eshkolot, a military post held until now by a paramilitary Nahal unit.

Eshkolot is located in the Hebron Mountains, south of the city of Hebron. The settlers are being housed in mobile homes, which were brought from Kiryat Arba.

Arens’ media adviser said the post was turned into a civilian settlement on the basis of a Cabinet decision made as long ago as 1983.

A spokesman for Ariel Sharon’s Housing Ministry expressed satisfaction that the Defense Ministry had agreed to the conversion. The Housing Ministry will now treat Eshkolot “just like any other settlement in Eretz Yisrael,” the spokesman said.

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