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A new Prawer Plan for Galilee

Just as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed his intention to proceed with the Prawer Plan and the displacement of Arabs from their villages in the Negev, his government settlement wing linked to Histadrut (Israel's federation of trades unions) has started to develop new plans to Judaise the Galilee. This will entail the construction of new Jewish communities and the expansion of existing settlements with the aim of increasing the number of Jews in the district and reducing the number of Israel's Palestinian citizens.


Haaretz has reported that specific areas will be targeted in the Galilee, including Buttauf, Sakhnin, Araba and Deir Hanna; the newspaper pointed out that the plan is both old and new to implement the government's Judaisation policy and create a demographic balance between Jews and Palestinians.

Dr Hanna Swed MP, an expert in city engineering, said that this is a new battle zone on the ground. The Israeli authorities have refused permission for Arab towns and villages to expand, suffocating the population as a consequence. Meanwhile, land distribution to the new settlements continues, which increases the restrictions placed on Israel's Arab citizens, who are the true owners of the land being given away.

The Housing Ministry admitted a few weeks ago that it is seeking to approve the establishment of five new settlements, stretching from the city of Beersheba, the largest city in the south of the country, to Dimona, home to Israel's nuclear industry. The ministry has now decided on the names of these settlements which are intended to improve the availability of apartments in the area, as well allow the transfer of military bases to the Negev in years to come.

All official Israeli reports reveal that the attempt to break the Arab majority has failed. Annually, between 30,000 and 35,000 Jews move out of the Galilee and Negev to live near Tel Aviv. The city is more attractive to the younger generation and there are better employment opportunities

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman hinted in the past week that he intends to resume "the Judaisation of the Galilee and the Negev" when he spoke of what he described as a "demographic threat" regarding the Palestinians in Israel; the population rise in the Galilee is of particular concern to the Zionists. He also claimed that Palestinians in Israel do not obey the law and are in control of the land: "It is a battle on the ground and we are fighting on the land of the Jewish homeland," he claimed. "We cannot turn a blind eye to what is going on there."

Israel announced in early 1975 its scheme to Judaise Galilee under the name of "Project for the improvement of Galilee", long-regarded as one of the most dangerous planned by the Zionist state because, in reality, its aim was to seize even more land, approximately 20,000 acres, from the Palestinians. At the time, a specific commission was formed by the Zionist establishment to apply this settlement scheme. In 1976 Yisrael Koenig, the northern region district commissioner for the Ministry of the Interior, produced a confidential document named after him; he suggested what would now be labelled the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians from Galilee and the seizure of their land in order to settle it with Jews. The document was submitted as a series of recommendations to the Israeli government with the title, "A draft memorandum for the treatment of Israeli Arabs". Koenig warned of the increase in the numbers of Palestinians in the northern district, which at the time had become almost equal to the number of Jews. He predicted that in a few years Palestinians would become the majority of the population and pose a serious threat to the Jews in the Zionist entity. Koenig presented a very racist document in which he called for reducing the proportion of Palestinians in the Galilee and Negev regions.

Israeli courts in the North and South have extended the detention period of Palestinian activists following the clashes that took place in protest demonstrations for the planned uprooting of Arabs from the Negev, under the name of the "Prawer Plan".

Prime Minister Netanyahu issued an order for the police to increase their pursuit of activists; he praised the police for their action and their readiness, adding, "We will not tolerate lawbreakers, and we will continue to push for the legitimisation of the Prawer Plan".

The foreign minister, meanwhile, called for the removal of what he described as "concessions to the Arabs" in the plan." By this he meant that Israel should take more than the proposed 150,000 acres.

The Chair of the internal Parliamentary Committee, radical MP Miri Regev, said that she will intensify efforts for the enactment of the plan in the coming weeks. She also claimed that the leaders of the Palestinians in Israel "do not show responsibility" in their rejection of the proposals.

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