The Jewish residents living in the Beit Ezra commercial compound in Hebron
will be evicted by April 2013, the state Prosecutor's Office
has announced Monday.
The decision has been submitted to the High Court of Justice. A hearing on the subject is to be held next week.
Responding to a petition filed two years ago by Peace Now,
which demanded the eviction of the Jewish residents living in a shopping compound near Hebron's market, the State prosecutors said they are examining a wide array of legal solutions regarding the property's future, including the possibility of converting it into a public facility that is to be used by the entire Jewish community in the city.
Beit Ezra, located in Hebron's Avraham Avinu
neighborhood, has been under Jewish ownership since the beginning of the previous century. However, the Jewish owners fled in 1947 due to Arab rioting. The Jordanian authorities then allocated the property to Arab merchants who operated the stores with Israeli consent until the second Intifada, when the facility was cleared out for security reasons.
In 2001 two Jewish families broke into and set up residence in the empty stores. An eviction order was issued but its implementation was postponed after the army appeals committee decided that the facility should be rented to Jews. The decision was based on the Ezra family's desire to continue renting the property to Jews, as well as the fact that the original ownership was Jewish.
But the attorney general asserted that the committee's desicion is not binding, thus allowing Peace Now to pursue the implementation of the eviction order.
Last month the High Court of Justice forced the government to issue a decision over the disputed stores by the middle of December, despites Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein's request to postpone the sensitive ruling until after the elections.
The decision, which was held up due to pressure from settlers, was submitted after drawing criticism from the High Court over the delay.
Jewish residents of Hebron accused the government of capitulating to "left wing" officials within the attorney general's office, who sought to void the "just and fair" decision made by the army's appeal committee.
Itamar Fleishman contributed to the report