Umm al-Fahm -Nitzan Shorer
The Israeli Arab city of Umm al-Fahm. Photo by Nitzan Shorer
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's flagship housing reform, designed to streamline approval of affordable housing, overlooks the Arab community almost entirely, a policy paper released this week says.

The paper, written by attorney Keis Nasser of Dirasat, the Arab Center for Law and Policy, was issued on the occasion of Land Day, which Israeli Arabs will be marking tomorrow.

The paper says the Trajtenberg committee's recommendations for socioeconomic reform offer no solutions for the Arab community's housing distress.

Based on comprehensive research and official Interior Ministry reports, the paper exposes numerous institutional obstacles preventing the development of Arab towns and villages in Israel. These obstacles, which deny Arab communities the possibility of expanding and developing legally, drive Israeli Arabs to build without permits, the paper concludes.

For example, the Northern District Planning and Building Committee suspended all construction plans in 26 northern Arab communities, citing inadequate sewage systems.

However, improving the sewage system requires larger state resources to build better infrastructures, which are denied to these communities.

Only three of the 71 plans advanced as part of the proposed reform are located in Arab communities and only three percent of the planned housing units are in Arab towns, the paper says.

Dirasat director Yousef Jabarin cites massive land confiscation in Arab communities and land allocations exclusively for Jewish communities as further causes for the shortage of thousands of housing units in the Arab communities.

He called for setting up a public committee of experts and representatives of the Arab community to advise the authorities on the moves required to solve the housing crisis.