An Israeli planning committee approved the construction of an apartment complex in a Jewish neighbourhood of Hebron, a mostly Palestinian West Bank city that has been the flashpoint in attacks against Jews.

The approval on Monday by the Civil Administration’s Subcommittee for Licensing is the first for new Jewish housing in the city since 2002.

In Hebron, some 500 Jews live among 40,000 Palestinians. The building will be constructed in the Beit Romano neighbourhood, one of four Jewish neighbourhoods in the city.

Hebron’s Palestinian municipality is expected to appeal the decision and claim ownership of the land.

Peace Now claims the property was under Jewish ownership prior to 1948 and that after 1967, the Civil Administration leased the land to the Hebron Palestinian Municipality and it remained under protected tenancy. The liberal NGO argues that should continue, even thought it was taken from the municipality in the 1980s to establish an Israeli military base.

Now that there is no longer a base on the land, the group says, it should revert to the municipality.

The subcommittee, a Defence Ministry panel that oversees construction activity in the West Bank, is set to approve hundreds more housing units throughout the West Bank during its meetings scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday.

Hebron has seen a number of attacks on Jewish Israelis, most recently a rash of stabbing attempts by Palestinian teens last month and some car rammings.