Aerial view of Acre.
(photo credit: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS/ISRAELTOURISM)
The National Planning and Building Council has approved the plan to build an Arab city near Acre, but a final vote must still be held on the measure.
The plan, which was approved on Tuesday, now goes to the regional planning committee for comments before a final vote is held, Israeli media reported.
The planned Arab city just east of Acre has drawn conflicting responses, with some rejecting the assignment of the future city to a specific ethnic group, and others congratulating the move to facilitate change in Arab society.
The city would be the first non-Beduin Arab city to be erected in Israel since its establishment. It is planned to have a population of 40,000.
The Jerusalem Post
contacted the Acre Municipality, and it responded, “The mayor [Shimon Lankry] welcomes the government’s decision to establish a new Arab city, and hopes that this will be an adequate response to the general Arab public, which for many years did not find an appropriate housing solution in the villages.”
Prof. Rassem Khamaisi of the geography and environmental studies department at the University of Haifa, who heads the Jewish-Arab Center, has been involved in the planning for the city. He told the Post last week that the city would be developed mostly on a state-owned forest area.
This city would serve as a model that could be replicated in other areas in the country, he said, noting its great importance for the Arab public. Its proximity to a train line would help develop Arab communities in the area, he added.
Khamaisi added that the plan is backed by the Prime Minister’s Office.
Ari Briggs, international relations director of Regavim, an NGO seeking to ensure responsible, legal and accountable use of national land, told the Post last week that he does not understand the idea of building a new Arab city, and wondered why a city has to be defined on an ethnic basis.
“Everyone should have the ability to be involved in the tender process and purchase apartments,” argued Briggs.
“The claim that Israeli Arab towns don’t have enough land to build on is not true, based on our research that shows that there is enough room in current residential-zoned areas to continue building until 2040,” he added.