Israeli occupation authorities are set to approve construction of settler units in the West Bank city of Al-Khalil (Hebron) for the first time since 2002, the anti-occupation group Peace Now said Tuesday.
It condemned what it called an attempt to “squeeze in” the approvals before next week’s US presidential election when Donald Trump faces Democratic challenger Joseph Biden.
Peace Now, which tracks settlement construction in the occupied territory, said Israeli military authorities had given the green light to the construction of 31 settler units “in the heart of Al-Khalil”.
Al-Khalil is considered a West Bank flashpoint area where around 800 Zionist settlers live under hefty Israeli army security, surrounded by around 200,000 Palestinians.
The city includes the site known to Muslims as the Ibrahimi Mosque and to Jews as the Cave of the Patriarchs, which is revered by both faiths.
The Israeli military body responsible for civilian affairs in the West Bank, COGAT, took steps to approve new settler units in central Al-Khalil in 2017.
Peace Now and Al-Khalil municipality challenged that project in court.
In 2018, Israeli occupation government allocated more than 21 million shekels ($6.2 million) to the project, according to Peace Now.
Al-Quds (Jerusalem) District Court had told the occupation government that the project cannot go ahead until the legal challenge is resolved, with a hearing set for January 31, Peace Now said.
But Israeli authorities told the court on Sunday that they would issue the permits within a week, the non-government group said.
“The state was quick to issue the building permit even though the court has explicitly ruled that work should not start until the… hearing takes place,” said Peace Now’s statement, referring to occupation authorities.
“The state explains to the court that although the court order prohibits the commencement of the works, it does not prohibit the issuance of the permit itself,” it added.
Peace Now linked the timing of the approvals to next week’s US presidential election.
Source: AFP (edited by Al-Manar English Website)