30,000 new homes will be built in 15 Arab towns in Israel as part of a huge construction plan for Arab communities announced by the Israeli government and aimed at significantly increasing housing in these communities.
Israel’s Housing and Construction Minister Yoav Galant signed an agreement with the heads of 15 local Arab authorities in the Arab town of Baka al-Gharbiya, including local leaders from Nazareth, Um al-Fahm, Taibe, Shfaram, Tamra and Sakhnin.
A mixture of apartment buildings, cottages and villas will be built on state and private land, at a cost of around 4.1 billion shekels (330 million euros).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.
“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,” Minister Galant said.
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 initiated a multifaceted plan to improve different aspects of Israeli Arabs’ life and who was also present at the 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 2.9 billion euros 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.