Arab 'Legal Intifada' in Pre-1967 Lines Continues Apace

Arabs want to purchase homes in Mei Ami as Rakefet defends itself from an Arab legal challenge. The Moshav movement senses danger in the trend.

IsraelNationalNews staff,

Har Amir nature reserve, near Mei Ami.
Har Amir nature reserve, near Mei Ami.

A tender for construction of new housing in a Jewish moshav (agricultural community) within pre-1967 Israel has attracted the interest of Arabs in the nearby city of Um el-Fahm, who said they want to purchase some of the homes.

Attorney Taufik Jabareen of the Arab-populated city of Um El Fahm, between Hadera and Afula, said there is a severe land shortage in Um el-Fahm and is therefore insisting the government allow its residents to purchase some of the new homes in Mei Ami.

Mei Ami is a relatively small community, with only 70 families and 230 residents. Its territory is about 3,500 dunams (865 acres, or 3.5 square kilometers). It is immediately adjacent to Um El Fahm, a town of more than 50,000 residents, which is considered to be a hotbed of Arab nationalism within Israel and the seat of the radical Northern Islamic Movement headed by Sheikh Raed Salah.

Mei Ami, which was established in 1969, is due to grow considerably as a result of the new tender, which calls for construction of 410 new housing units along the road separating Mei Ami and Um el-Fahm.

Ties with Islamic Movement
A report on Voice of Israel radio said the project itself is in dispute, with Arab villagers saying the land on which the Jewish community is built was once an Arab village.

Attorney Jabareen, who has a history of involvement in land struggles against Jews and who is accused by local Jews of having close ties with the Islamic Movement, published a declaration in a local newspaper, Al Murjan, in which he called upon young couples from Um El Fahm to apply for houses in the tender.

In 1995, Jabareen bought and moved into a house in the nearby community of Katzir, which he also claimed was built on Arab land, and encouraged Arab couples to move there in what he boasted was a project "to conquer Katzir by democratic means." One Arab couple sued Katzir in what became a landmark case, and was allowed to build a home there.

The Secretary-General of the Moshav Movement, Eitan Ben-David, said that the recent trend, in which Arabs try to enter small Jewish villages, is dangerous. "The key to coexistence in Israel is separation between the populations in the small communities," he said.

One-Way Trend
It should be noted, however, that Um El-Fahm, too, published tenders for expansion in recent years, after the High Court decided to give it land which was confiscated from it in the past. However, these tenders were only open to residents of Um El Fahm, and a Jew from Katzir who applied to one of them was rejected. 

The Zubeidats Want to Live in Rakefet
Also on Sunday, the High Court allowed the Misgav Regional Council in the Galilee to join the respondents in a petition filed by an Arab couple, the Zubeidats, who wish to build their homes in the Jewish community of Rakefet, near Carmiel.

The council asked to join the case because it was a matter of principle which it said could dramatically affect the process of accepting new families into the communities in Misgav.

"Accepting the Zubeidats' petition could dramatically hurt the special fabric of communal life" in the Misgav communities, the Council said, "and the entire fabric of development of [Jewish] settlement in Misgav could be damaged."

Similar challenges to the national and religious character of small Jewish communities have been mounted throughout Israel in the post-Oslo era. To date, Jews have been slow to mount effective countermeasures.

Most if not all of of the press reports on the matter tend to credit the Arabs' claims that they are only seeking a higher standard of living by moving into Jewish territory. They refuse to consider the possibility that this is not their true motivation, and that the petitions are systematically organized by the radical Arab leadership.