Government announces huge construction plan for Arab communities

Israel’s housing minister yesterday signed an agreement with heads of 15 local Arab authorities, to significantly increase housing in their communities.

Yoav Galant signed the agreement in the Arab town of Baka al-Gharbiya, alongside local leaders from Nazareth, Um al-Fahm, Taibe, Shfaram, Tamra, Sakhnin and elsewhere. The agreement will see an initial 30,000 new homes built in these Arab communities. A mixture of apartment buildings, cottages and villas will be built on state and private land, at a cost of around £280m.

YNet says that the agreement is viewed as a precursor to a wider plan in which more than 50 local Arab authorities will agree to increased construction. Further budgets are also set to be allocated for the construction or renovation of public buildings and areas in Arab communities, worth around £142m.

At the signing, Galant said: “Over the next 20 years, the Arab sector will require 200,000 apartments. During the last few weeks, we have made it a point to work side by side with the Arab leadership… the effects of which will shortly be visible on the ground. Strengthening the Arab sector is a national interest.”

He added: “There is a real opportunity here to bring about justice and give hope to the children living here.”

Gila Gamliel, Minister for Social Equality, who was also present at yesterday’s signing, described the agreement as “no less than a revolution regarding the existing housing crisis in the Arab sector”. She said that the agreement would be “the foundation for economic growth and minimising social gaps”.

Last year, Israel’s government announced an ambitious five-year plan, worth £2.5bn, to boost education, employment, infrastructure and transportation in Arab communities. Israel’s Arab population, which includes Muslims, Christians, Druze and Circassian communities, comprises almost one quarter of Israel’s overall population. However, services within these communities have suffered from a lack of funds and support.

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