Amid Opposition Pressure, Netanyahu's Government Backs New Druze Town

The move would help ease the community’s housing crisis, as well as some of the anger after the passing of the law declaring Israel the nation-state of the Jewish people

File photo: A Druze community in the Golan Heights.
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The governing coalition and opposition have agreed that if in the next month the government does not approve the building of a new Druze town, the coalition will support a bill calling for such a community.

Legislation to that end has been introduced by a member of the opposition, MK Yoel Hasson (Zionist Union). Such a law would presumably put pressure on the ministries to move this project forward.

The compromise was an attempt to prevent a vote that would embarrass Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; coalition whip David Amsalem said the compromise would get things going.

Such initiatives are not new. The government started examining such proposals in 2012, and in 2016 the National Planning and Building Committee approved a plan for a new town in the Lower Galilee, west of Tiberias. But this initiative stalled.

In July, when the Knesset passed the law declaring Israel the nation-state of the Jewish people, the Druze loudly protested. The coalition has since been searching for ways to placate this community.

Various alternatives to that law have been considered, but nothing has come of it. One option has been the quick establishment of new Druze towns; this would resolve the dire housing shortage in existing towns and villages.

Originally, Hasson’s bill was scheduled to be voted on Wednesday; Hasson believes it would have passed, with the support of some coalition members.