Tent City Rally (Ben) 311.
(photo credit: Ben Hartman [file])
Two Israeli-Arab political bodies, the National Committee for the Arab Local
Authorities and the Arab Higher Monitoring Committee, joined the mounting
housing struggle on Thursday. They are the first Israeli-Arab organizations to
utilize the momentum of the protest movement to address the specific housing
needs in the Israeli-Arab sector.
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Israeli-Arabs face difficulty obtaining
building permits and a housing shortage of approximately 5,000 apartments per
year, according to Ramez Jeraisy, chairman of the National Committee for the
Arab Local Authorities and the mayor of Nazareth.
Israeli-Arab real estate sector resists high-density homes
About 95 percent of
Arab land is privately owned, according to Suheil Diab, an adviser to Jeraisy,
making it difficult for the state to free up land for building projects and
public housing. He said that Nazareth is one of the only Israeli-Arab cities
that has public or affordable housing complexes.
The organizations waited
two weeks to join the struggle because the initial campaign against rising rent
prices did not relate to the Arab-Israeli sector, he said.
Israeli-Arabs, it’s not the price of houses,” Jeraisy said. “There are no
But the momentum the protest movement has garnered – and the
serious recent attention the government has afforded to it – created a new
opportunity to emphasize the distinct housing problems in the Israeli-Arab
sector, he said.
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According to a report compiled by the Arab-Israeli NGO,
The Galilee Society, in 2010, 55% of the Arab public that will need housing in
the coming decade, will not be able to afford a place to live.
associations have not decided if they will begin pitching tents in protest, but
“all legitimate, democratic, participatory forms of protest are possible,” said
Daib. They will meet tomorrow to formalize their campaign
Roee Neuman, one of the spokesmen for the Tel Aviv
tent-protester movement, which has been heralded as the hub of the struggle
against rising rent prices and the cost of living, was thrilled that the Arab
committees joined the movement.
“We welcome everyone from all parties,”
The organizations’ decision to formally join the protest comes
three days after Jaraisy sent a letter to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
urging him to address the housing crisis in the Israeli- Arab
Jaraisy called on the government to expedite the process for
Israeli-Arabs to obtain building permits and increase government subsidies for
mortgages and new building projects. He also called for Israeli-Arabs to be
included in government committees proposing solutions to the housing crisis.
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