JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett approved the planning of a new Jewish neighborhood in the West Bank city of Hebron.
The new Jewish neighborhood would double the number of Jews living in Hebron, according to the defense ministry. There currently are about 1,000 Jews living in Hebron in small enclaves amid some 215,000 Palestinians.
The new neighborhood will be built near the city’s old market on Hebron’s once-bustling Shuhada Street, the Old City’s main commercial artery. It has been shut down by the Israeli army since 1994, forcing many businesses to close.
Palestinians, who have long demanded that it be reopened, have been banned from accessing the street.
The market buildings will be rebuilt and will remain in Palestinian hands, the Jerusalem Post reported citing the defense ministry.
The property above the market buildings on the ground floor must be “returned to Jewish hands,” the newspaper reported citing a statement by Bennett’s spokesperson.
A massacre in Hebron in 1929 left 67 Jews dead and led to the evacuation of Jews from the city. Jews resettled there after the 1967 Six-Day War.
Bennett was named defense minister earlier this month by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who previously held the portfolio.