Hebron governor Kamel Hameed, on Saturday, said that the Israeli army’s decision to expand municipal powers of illegal settlers in the city of Hebron is “the most dangerous since 1967”.

He told the official radio station ‘Voice of Palestine’ that the decision is paving the way for undermining Palestinian authority and imposing an Israeli one instead. “The order jeopardizes any political settlement in the area, which stands in contradiction with the peace process and the establishment of a Palestinian state.”

Hebron was divided into two sections in the Hebron Protocol signed by the late leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in January 1997; “H1 is under full Palestinian control and H2 is under Israeli control”.

While H2 is under Israeli military control, civil issues, such as infrastructure, construction, traffic arrangements, in the settlers section continue to be controlled by the Palestinian Authority.

The Israeli army’s order transfers municipal powers from the Palestinian Authority to the Hebron municipal committee under the jurisdiction of Israel’s Ministry of Interior, which constitutes a violation of the Hebron Protocol.

According to WAFA, Hameed warned from the consequences of such decision in the future, saying it will lead to a state of confusion and chaos and will threaten order and stability in the area. He called for urgent political, diplomatic and legal action.

Peace Now, Israeli watchdog group, criticized the decision, “By granting an official status to the Hebron settlers, the Israeli government is formalizing the apartheid system in the city.”

The group said the step, which followed 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.”

The group warned that the order might bring about several implications, including formalizing an apartheid system in Hebron and less transparency regarding fund allocation if municipal issues are handled directly by Israeli settlers in Hebron.

Photo: A net installed in Hebron’s Old City to prevent garbage dropped by Israeli settlers into a Palestinian area. (Wikipedia)