Netanyahus call to settle Hebron house not official, state says

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was offering a gesture of support, not an official directive, with his call to allow settlers to move into a contested home in Hebron, the state told the Supreme Court.

No decision has been made on when Jews can move into the building, known as the Machpela house, the state said in response to a petition filed Sept. 23 by a group of Palestinians seeking to keep Jewish settlers from moving into the house located near the Cave of the Patriarchs.

The petition was filed in the wake of Netanyahu’s statement after the fatal shooting of an Israeli soldier in Hebron by a Palestinian sniper.

Sgt. Gal Gabriel Kobi, 20, was shot in the neck on Sept. 22 while on guard duty near the Cave of the Patriarchs.

A West Bank military court ruled in April that Jewish settlers had legally purchased the home. The house must still be registered in the Land Registry, which could take months or years, according to the daily Haaretz. — jta