Israel seized municipal authority from the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Hebron on Sunday, when the Defense Ministry gave its final approval for the construction of an elevator that would make the Tomb of the Patriarchs handicap accessible.
According to the 1997 Hebron agreement between Israel and the PLO, this type of construction would usually require approval from the PA-run Hebron Municipality.
The Holy Tomb itself, however, falls under the auspices of the IDF. And although the Hebron Municipality opposes the project, the only way for Israel to make any progress is to place it under the jurisdiction of the IDF’s Civil Administration.
For many years, the Jewish Israelis of Hebron have lobbied to make the Tomb handicap accessible. Currently, the site can only be reached by climbing a long staircase.
“After years of being stuck, I have given final authorization for the handicapped accessible project in the Tomb of the Patriarchs where our forefathers are laid to rest” Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said on Sunday.
“The tomb belongs to us after Abraham bought it with his own money 3,800 years ago. It is a great reward to have a role in it.”