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( For the first time in many years, the Israeli government has approved Jewish construction in Hevron, the City of the Patriarchs.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak has given his approval to the expansion of the dormitory in Yeshivat Shavei Hevron, the largest Jewish institution in Hevron. Rabbi Chananel Etrog, Acting Dean of the yeshiva, said, “The expansion is an elementary need on the most basic level.”

Approval of the expansion has been held up for no fewer than eight years. Rabbi Etrog said that a deviation of 90 centimeters (three feet) was the excuse for a court suit by left-wing elements. “And even after we submitted corrected plans, the Defense Minister at the time held things up by not signing the necessary papers,” Rabbi Etrog said.  “Ever since then they stalled and sidetracked the various Defense Ministers for years, until finally now Barak has signed the approval.”

Rabbi Etrog said that at present, the dormitory rooms have 14 students apiece: “The students have tremendous dedication for Torah study here, but it finally became clear to the Defense Minister that such difficult conditions should not continue.”

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