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(photo credit: Courtesy)
Jews and Israeli-Arabs should not live next to one another, Construction and Housing Minister Ariel Attias said on Thursday.
He warned of the "expansion of a population that doesn't love the State of Israel, to say the least."
Speaking at the Israel Bar Association headquarters in Tel Aviv, the Shas legislator said Israel was in danger of "losing the Galilee" if the Israeli-Arab population continued to "spread" in the North, and mentioned in particular the Wadi Ara area, where he asserted that Harish, a haredi community planned to be built there, was a "mission of national importance" that could help "stop the expansion."
"Arabs don't have where to live, so they buy apartments in places with a Jewish nature, which causes unwanted friction," Attias said.
"We can all be bleeding-hearts," said the minister, "but I think it is unsuitable [for Jews and Arabs] to live together."
Attias used the Jewish-Arab clashes last year in Acre to explain his argument. "The mayor of Acre [Shimon Lankry] met with me yesterday for three hours, and asked how to save the city. He told me to bring a whole lot of haredim to save it," Attias said.
The minister quoted Lankry as saying, "I will even lose my political power."
"He told me that Arabs living in Jews' buildings chase them away," Attias added.
Mayors in the North "are asking me to salvage the Galilee, because this mixture is not feasible for coexistence over time," Attias said.
He said that he would push forward the long-planned Harish project in order to "save" the Wadi Ara area - which has seen "illegal Arab expansion" - by populating the region with haredim, "who are the only ones willing to live there."
MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta'al) lashed out at Attias, saying that "relating to Israel's Arab citizens as something threatening and foreign, coming from a minister in a government that should be distributing resources [equally], borders on violating the law against incitement to racism."
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