A plan to build a whole new city in Israel just for Arabs will come before the country’s National Planning and Building Council for approval next week.
Proposed to be built next to the Arab community of Jdeideh Makr near the northern coastal city of Acre (pictured), the city is planned for a population of 40,000 largely middle-class Arabs, reports Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
It would be the first city built for non-Bedouin Arabs since the establishment of the state of Israel.
Initiated by the Israel Lands Authority, the Housing and Construction Ministry and the planning administration in the Interior Ministry, the plan has been in the works for the past four years following a cabinet decision in 2008.Â
Planners say the new, 675-acre city is needed to create communities that do not belong to a number of clans, and to provide for citizens who do not have land to build on.Â
Intended for a middle-class population, the city would be "a message to the Arab population that new communities are not only being built for Jews but for Arabs as well, as part of the process of affirmative action for the Arab population in the public sphere," according to the planners’ report, quoted by Haaretz.
The new community would be close to a planned train line from Acre to Carmiel, and would consist consist of high-rises of at least six storeys, which is unusual in small and medium-size Arab communities.
According to Haaretz, planners met with a Arab planners, mayors and academics. Some expressed their support for the project as a solution to the housing crunch, but others said they opposed the establishment of a new city for a specific population group.Â
Some also said they were concerned that the new city would siphon off educationally and economically advanced residents of existing communities, which would leave those communities weakened. Still others noted that the new city was to be built on land expropriated in the past from people now living in Jdeideh Makr.
Photograph: Palestinian woman with baby in Acre, Israel, near site of proposed new city (Adam Jones/Wikimedia Commons)