Daily Israel Report

Suit: 'Save Harish for Arabs'

Far-left attorneys file suit against a plan to build for the rapidly expanding hareidi-religious community, arguing, “Arabs need that land.”
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 2/16/2011, 6:48 PM / Last Update: 2/16/2011, 7:19 PM

Harish-Katzir Local Counci

Two lawyers known for their work on behalf of extreme left-wing groups have filed suit against plans to build housing for hareidi-religious Jews in the city of Harish in Wadi Ara. According to attorneys Michael Sfard and Yishai Shneidor, surrounding Arab communities need the land for their own housing.

The two argued that designating Harish for hareidi Jews would be a violation of the right to equality set forth in Israel's Basic Laws.

Harish is a small Jewish town with a mixed secular and religious population. Last year, the government decided to solve two problems at once by turning the town into a hareidi city – thus providing housing for the rapidly expanding hareidi community while helping Harish grow.

Sfard and Shneidor claimed that “importing” hareidi Jews would throw off the existing balance of between various sectors of society in Wadi Ara. The region currently has an Arab majority.

Extremist leaders in the Arab-Israeli community have stated that they see Wadi Ara as strategically important. The region borders on Samaria, and extremists see it as a possible extension to the Arab state which they hope to see established in Judea and Samaria.

Government officials say that while Harish is to be designated for hareidi-religious families, non-hareidi people would be free to buy in the city as well.

Officials dismissed the argument that surrounding Arab communities need the land on which Harish will sit in order to expand. The land in question has been empty for decades with no offers to buy it, they noted.

Hareidi-religious Jews are most likely to settle the new city, officials said. Members of the hareidi community tend to buy housing in groups, with many families moving to a new area at once, in order to ensure a suitable religious community. Previous new housing projects bought by members of the hareidi community have quickly grown into cities with tens of thousands of residents.