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Israel plans to block Arabs from living in 1,000 neighbourhoods

Image of Jewish settlement [ Mahfouz Abu Turk/Apaimages]
An illegal Israeli settlement built on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank [Mahfouz Abu Turk/Apaimages]

Israel is planning to block its Arab citizens from living in almost 1,000 neighbourhoods and villages under the pretext that they were built for Jews only, Quds Press reported on Tuesday. According to a report in Haaretz, the Knesset (Israeli parliament) is set to discuss a law to build Jew-only areas in the country.

Describing the proposed legislation as "racist", the director of the Alternative Planning Centre, which specialises in planning and construction, said that it aims to prevent Arabs from living in new neighbourhoods. Hanna Sweed added that municipalities used to prevent Arab citizens from living in Jewish neighbourhoods, but this practice looks set to become enshrined in law.

"There have been indirectly-racist laws in Israel," explained Sweed, "but this law stipulates clearly the building of Jewish neighbourhoods without any Arab residents." He warned that this might lead to more racist laws to put extra limits on Israel's Arab citizens, who make up 20 per cent of the population.

The former MK pointed out that there is no law that prevents Jews from living in Arab neighbourhoods. "What's more, consecutive Israeli governments have built hundreds of Jewish towns and neighbourhoods in occupied Palestine [Israel], but have never built any Arab neighbourhood since 1948."

He noted that the Israeli authorities have never even expanded Arab neighbourhoods, causing severe housing shortages and pushing Arabs to apply to live in new Jewish areas. "Due to years of having their land confiscated, Israel's Arab citizens do not have enough land to meet housing demand as the population continues to grow."

Read: Settlements watchdog warns of accelerated Israeli land seizures

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