The residents of a Jewish town in Israel are seeking to thwart plans to expand a neighbouring Palestinian community by informing on alleged illegal construction, reported Haaretz.
According to the paper, Katzir residents hope to “foil a development plan” that would bring the town of Arara closer to Katzir’s boundaries.
Last week, Haaretz reported, the Wadi Ara region in northern Israel “found out that the National Planning Authority was advancing a massive program to expand Arara by 4,000 housing units, and that the authority planned to expedite it.”
The plan would expand Arara “for the first time in years”, and is a pilot “by the Housing and Construction Ministry, the Planning Authority and the Interior Ministry designed to legalize some 650 housing units built illegally and give the town a master plan for development”.
However, Haaretz said, the condition by Israeli authorities for “advancing the plan” was “a halt to all illegal construction during the planning period”.
Katzir residents are now saying they have “evidence that illegal construction continued in Arara over the past two years, while the plan was in the works, and are thus arguing that the town didn’t meet the terms of the pilot.”
Ronen Rosenthal, a member of Katzir’s local council, has told economics paper the Marker “that the residents were demanding that the state halt the planning process for Arara in response”.
Such complaints, however, seem to have fallen on deaf ears, with the Justice Ministry disagreeing with Katzir’s residents, and the Planning Authority criticising “the conduct of Katzir’s residents”.
Palestinian citizens have faced decades of discrimination in planning and development, with communities prevented from growing while land is afforded to Jewish towns. As noted by Haaretz, Arab communities inside the 1967 lines include an estimated 50,000 illegally built housing units.