Interior Ministry plans new Arab town

Accepted by the government, project will now move into the stage of preliminary expert planning.

mosque village 88 (photo credit: )
mosque village 88
(photo credit: )
To satisfy the needs of a growing Israeli Arab population, Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit initiated a project Sunday to build a new Arab town in the Galilee. The town, which will be located in an area which has a large Arab population, will cost NIS 1 million in its preparatory stages. The final cost of the project is unknown at this point, as is a definite date for its completion. Having been accepted by the government, the project will now move into the stage of preliminary expert planning. A group of officials, headed by Interior Ministry Director-General Arye Bar, has been assembled to discuss technical aspects of the plan as well as what the future town will look like. The committee will also include experts from the Arab community, and hopes to present its conclusions to the government by the end of 2008. "The minister is in contact with representatives of the Arab community, and they will play a part in the committee," said Hanan Shlian, a spokesman for Sheetrit. The town's planners hope it will answer two needs of the Israeli Arab community. First, the town will provide space for Israel's growing Arab population. Second, Sheetrit hopes for the town to be a modern city with opportunities and affordable housing for young couples, as opposed to most older Arab cities, many of which lack state-of-the-art infrastructure and ample building space. "There is a need to expand the range of opportunities facing the non-Jewish population," said Sheetrit. "My aspiration is for a new Arab city in the Galilee where young couples can buy a house just like in any other city in the world." Shlian added that the current structure of Israeli Arab society limits the opportunities of those that wish to get in touch with world culture and new technology. "The setting created by [existing Arab towns] makes it hard to establish an orderly city atmosphere in the areas of business, education, culture and expansion, and definitely regarding transportation and healthcare," said Shlian. "Many from this population who wish to integrate into modern city life cannot find an answer in the existing traditional town." The project, which will include work from many ministries, has not faced any significant opposition and has garnered the approval of the prime minister and of the construction and housing minister.