No Neighborly Welcome for Israeli Arabs in Rakefet

High Court ordered Rakefet community's committee and Israel Lands Administration to provide Fatina and Ahmed Zabeidat from Sakhnin with plot of land within 90 days.

A day after the High Court ruled that an Israeli Arab family can build a home in the Galilee's Rakefet community, many of the area's Jewish residents are quietly expressing their frustration with the ruling.

The court ordered the community's committee and the Israel Lands Administration to provide Fatina and Ahmed Zabeidat from Sakhnin with a plot of land within 90 days. The ruling was a victory for the couple, who had battled for six years for the right to build a home in Rakefet.

The couple had been rejected twice by the Rakefet community committee, which told them they were not compatible with the community.

Rakefet, one of the oldest communities in the Misgav Regional Council, will be the first of the Misgav communities to take in an Arab family.

The official response of the local committee and council is that they are a law-abiding community and will implement the court's decision.

Committee chairman Zvi Friedman said the community will respect the ruling. But, he added, "This is a Jewish Zionist community."

Many residents did not conceal their disappointment with the court ruling and with Haaretz's report about the Zabeidat story.

"Sure, you're satisfied now, it suits you," one woman passing the secretariat said, with a dismissive hand gesture.

One of the residents who refused to have his name released said, "There is no doubt the ruling is very significant. We don't know what will happen next, how their presence will affect the community. Are they the first of others? How will they integrate with the other residents? All this is not clear."

Another resident who has been living in Rakefet for 20 years says the Zabeidat family made a mistake by moving there.

"I'm sure they came here to provoke," he said. "I cannot wish them good luck. The court's decision can be disputed. They may be nice people, but the fact they came here forcibly is not good."

Dubi Avigdor, one of the founding members of the human rights group Sikkuy, encouraged residents to be more accepting. "Rakefet is not a right-wing community, but many believe it's too early for this," he said. "Once they chose to live here, we have no right to reject them."