Officials Butt Heads Over New Arab City

Government officials are at odds over the status of a planned Arab city in the Galilee, which would be the first Arab city founded since Israel's establishment.

Shamai Assif, who heads the Interior Ministry planning administration, told the Knesset Interior and Environment Committee yesterday that no location has been found for the city, there is no timetable for building it and there had been no decision of who would be responsible for the matter.

"There is no designated land," said Assif. "Thousands of dunams are needed. Israel is crowded."

However, Ilan Teichman, the Housing and Construction Ministry responsible for urban planning and construction, said his ministry has been pushing a plan for founding an Arab city south of Jadera Makar, in the Acre region, for the past five years.

He said the plan, for some 7,000 housing units, has already been discussed by the district committee.

But Assif said this was nothing new, and committee members seemed pessimistic over the probability that the Arab city would actually be built.

The discussion came after Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit announced last week that he was advancing the founding of a modern Arab city.