Breakthrough for Housing Rights in Israeli-Arab Towns

3 March 2016

Following intensive work by NIF grantees Bimkom – Planners for Planning Rights and the Arab Center for Alternative Planning, the National Planning and Building Council is expected to increase construction in Israeli-Arab towns in northern Israel, including Sakhnin, Majdal Krum, Shfaram, Nazareth, Umm al-Fahm, Ara, Baqa al-Gharbiyye, Tira, and Kalansua. These changes, which are part of a national master development plan that will dramatically expand housing opportunities for Israel’s Arab minority, were approved by a subcommittee and now await approval from the full council.

Development plans for most Israeli-Arab areas tend to be outdated or non-existent, and as a result, legal avenues for Arab citizens to build new homes are rare. Thus, most new Arab housing is technically illegal and vulnerable to demolition at government whim. But thanks to the advocacy of NIF grantees, these proposed policy changes are expected to pass, allowing for new construction in growing urban areas that desperately need it.

Crucially, the recommendation was also backed by influential environmental organizations, which generally oppose such expansion. But in this case, they supported the changes because of the urgent need to increase housing and employment opportunities in Arab communities.

In a statement, Bimkom said, “We are proud to have played a role in this important step, and hope that the final approval will be given for increased building in Arab areas – an increase that will be appropriate for the demographic and cultural needs of the residents.”

Photo via Flickr