by Ezra HaLevi
(IsraelNN.com) Senior Palestinian Authority (PA) officials say they have been guaranteed by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that Jews will be evicted from Hevronâ€™s Beit HaShalom. Residents and supporters are defiant.
Beit HaShalom, or “Shalom House” with a floor space of over 3,500 square meters, was purchased by Jews from its Arab owner two and a half years ago. It is strategically located in a spot leading from the Hevron Jewish suburb Kiryat Arba to the Cave of Patriarchs. Jews entered the partially-built structure in March, 2007, and government officials have made attempts to negate the sale to the new Jewish owners.
WorldNetDailyâ€™s Aaron Klein reported Thursday that a senior PA negotiator says he was told by Olmert’s office that Beit HaShalom is on the top of the list of pending evictions to be approved at the upcoming Annapolis summit, along with several hilltop communities classified as outposts.
However, leaders and supporters of Hevronâ€™s Jewish Community declared last Sunday at a fundraising dinner in New York City that they are not only refusing to leave the legally-purchased and refurbished property, but also are in the process of preparing it for winter, despite the governmentâ€™s refusal to authorize the work.
Ruth Simon, an octogenarian honoree at the Manhattan dinner, disregarded the upcoming Annapolis Conference and promised to push forward with plans to expand a child-care center being built and expanded in the City of the Patriarchs. Simon said that although she never had children of her own, she is heartened that the children of Hevron will enjoy the facilities of the center in memory of her husband.
â€œWe live in Hevron not only because our ancestors are buried there,â€ said Hevron Mayor Avraham Ben-Yosef, â€œbut because they lived thereâ€¦Peace plans have brought nothing but misery and grief. The real peace plan is G-dâ€™s plan.â€
Yossi Baumol, Director of the Hevron Fund, admitted â€œit has been a very difficult time for Hevron these past few years. But we know that though sometimes we stand alone against the many â€“ so did our father Abraham â€“ called an Ivri (Hebrew – lit. “on a side”) because he stood on one side while the whole world stood on the other.â€
Moshe Wertenteil, a Jewish activist honored with his wife Ilana at the dinner, hinted at future plans for the city â€“ even as plans for Annapolis were being concretized. â€œWe look forward to the purchase and population of more properties like Beit HaShalom all over the city,â€ he said, answered by applause.