Upper Nazareth to build orthodox neighborhood on former Arab land to counter number of Arabs June 26, 2009


Upper Nazareth

Upper Nazareth

The mayor of Upper Nazareth is planning to build 3,050 housing units in an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood out of concern for the growing Palestinian-Arab population in his town. The initiative has received the support of Interior Minister Eli Yishai, who publicly urged ultra-orthodox haredim to settle in the new neighborhood.

The new neighborhood will be conjoined with neighborhoods that were built on land that was expropriated from the Arab villages of Mashhad, Kfar Kana and Ein Mahil in 1967 – a move that led to events that killed six Palestinian citizens and is marked annually by Palestinians as Land Day. The new neighborhood itself will also be built on land that was taken from Palestinians.

The mayor of Upper Nazareth told Israeli media,”The matter of Jewish settlement in the Galilee in general, and in Upper Nazareth in particular, is of national importance today. As a man of Greater Israel, I think it is more important to settle in the Galilee than in Judea and Samaria, where natural growth is already high and enough Jews already live. I urge the settlers there to come here.”

Upper Nazareth itself was founded in the 1950′s as a settler town, to counter the pre-dominantly Palestinian population in Nazareth and in the wider Galilee. The town was built on land that was expropriated under dubious circumstances. Laws stated that expropriations were only allowed for public purposes. The government claimed it expropriated the land to erect government facilities. At the same time it had already been decided that only 109 dunums would be used for that that and the planning to build residential neighborhoods continued. The case was taken to the Supreme Court, but the court accepted the government’s argument.

It was planned to have a Jewish population in Upper Nazareth. Israeli army Planning Department Director Yuval Ne’eman said that Upper Nazareth would “emphasize and safeguard the Jewish character of the Galilee as a whole, and … demonstrate state sovereignty to the Arab population more than any other settlement operation.”

Northern Military Governor Colonel Mikhael Mikhael stated that the final aim of the settlement was to “swallow up” the Arab city of Nazareth through “growth of the Jewish population around a hard-core group” and “the transfer of the center of gravity of life from Nazareth to the Jewish neighborhood.”

However in recent years the Jewish population is migrating away from Upper Nazareth and the Palestinian population is growing 14 per cent annually.

LINK: http://www.imemc.org/article/60936

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