Photo Credit: MK Matan Kahana's Facebook page
A disabled Jewish man being carried up from the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron.

The District Court in Jerusalem rejected a petition submitted by the (Palestinian Authority) Hebron Municipality against Israeli construction work on the Cave of the Patriarchs (Maarat Hamachpelah) in Hebron, paving the way to making it accessible to people with disabilities.

The Palestinian Authority-run Hebron municipality submitted a petition against Israeli plans to make the holy site Cave of the Patriarchs accessible to people with disabilities, and the district court ruled Thursday that the Cave of the Patriarchs can be made accessible by building a path and an elevator.

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The holy site is currently accessible only by a long set of stairs.

Judge Ram Vinograd accepted the claims of the state and ruled unequivocally that accessibility to the holy site is part of the Basic Law of Human Dignity and Liberty.

In addition, he stated that it is obligatory to allow a person with a disability to visit ancestral graves at any time, even on Saturdays and holidays, in a dignified and independent manner, and therefore a respectable path and an elevator will serve this purpose.

This ruling is the latest phase in several years of legal battles and procrastination by the various governments which were hesitant in moving forward with this relatively small project because of the possible diplomatic fallout.

PA officials have claimed that Israel’s plans to make the site accessible to people with disabilities are “Israeli aggression” and “an egregious assault on Palestinian land and a grave violation of international law as well as signed agreements.

“This is a provocative and irresponsible action that will stoke religious sensitivities,” Hanan Ashrawi, Member of the PLO Executive Committee in May 2020.

The Palestinian Authority has denied any Jewish connection to the site.

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Aryeh Savir is director of the International division of Tazpit News Agency.