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Fatah demands action against Israeli order expanding settler powers in Hebron

Sept. 4, 2017 5:12 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 4, 2017 9:31 P.M.)
Israeli soldiers escort Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank town of Hebron in April 2016. (Photo: Christian Peacemakers Team)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The Fatah movement released a statement on Sunday condemning a recent Israeli army decision to expand municipal powers in Hebron to Israeli settlers that live illegally in the city, saying the decision “foreshadows a real disaster” in the southern occupied West Bank city.

According to Israeli NGO Peace Now, the Israeli army announced last Thursday that the military order was signed to establish a municipal services administration for Hebron's notoriously aggressive Israeli settlers.

The order broke with the Hebron Protocol, a 1997 treaty that split up Hebron city into H1 and H2, with H1 to be under full Palestinian control, while security in H2 was put under Israeli military control. However civil issues such as infrastructure, construction, and traffic arrangements in the settler’s section of H2 was to remain controlled by the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Spokesman of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, Osama al-Qawasmi, said that the order was “very dangerous,” as it would be putting the civil affairs of the area, which is home to tens of thousands of Palestinian residents, into the hands of a few hundred extremist settlers.

Al-Qawasmi said the order was an attempt by Israel’s “racist regime” to "Judaize" the Old City of Hebron. He demanded “immediate and urgent action at official, popular, legal, and diplomatic levels” against the order, and called on the international community to immediately “prevent these racist, destructive, and discriminatory measures that violate international law and signed agreements.”

At the time the order was signed, Peace Now said that “by granting an official status to the Hebron settlers, the Israeli government is formalizing the apartheid system in the city. This step, which happened immediately following the announcement on the evacuation of the settlers who took over a house in Hebron, is another illustration of the policy of compensating the most extreme settlers for their illegal actions.”

According to Peace Now, the Israeli order “does not create a new local authority or a new community within a regional authority, but rather a settler body with a certain degree of administrative power,” which would not include any Palestinian representation.

Peace Now noted they were attempting to obtain a copy of the military order to further understand its implications, but said that a possible consequence of the decision would be the “formalization” of the “apartheid” system in Hebron.

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