'Israel's government on Sunday approved the construction of 31 settler homes in Hebron, the first such green light for the flashpoint West Bank city since 2002, a cabinet minister said.
Construction permits were agreed last October but needed the government's approval, according to the Peace Now NGO, which monitors settlement construction in occupied territory and has appealed the decision, according to the Jerusalem Post.
"For the first time in more than 20 years, Hebron will have a new Jewish neighbourhood where a military camp once stood," Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said after the weekly cabinet meeting.
He said in a statement that the project will comprise 31 settler homes and two kindergartens, according to AFP.
"It is an important step in the global activity which we are carrying out to reinforce settlements in Judea and Samaria," added Lieberman, referring to the occupied West Bank.
Hebron is holy to both Muslims and Jews, with Old Testament figures including Abraham believed to be buried there.
The city is also a flashpoint reflecting the deep tensions that run between Palestinians and Israelis.
Left-wing party Meretz chairwoman Tamar Zandberg said: "The settlement in Hebron must be evacuated, certainly not expanded," the Jerusalem Post reported.
Calling supporters in the government of the new plan “pyromaniacs,” she argued that they "inflate the most extreme, dangerous and destructive settlement".'
Read more: Israeli minister praises new Jewish neighborhood in flashpoint Hebron
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