A town in the Galilee will be required to allow an Israeli Arab couple build a home and move in, as the High Court ruled on Tuesday in favor of the Zabidat family in a long running lawsuit to allow them to settle in the private community of Rakefet. The Zabidats won the right to purchase a lot in the town in 2007, but say they have not been able to build a house there because they did not get a residence permit from the town's acceptance committee. Tuesday's decision requires the town to grant the permit.
Rakefet is about a 10 minute drive from Karmiel and 40 minute drive from Haifa, Safed and the Kineret, and has a population of several hundred families. The Zabidats first applied to move into the town in 2006, when Rakefet administrators went on a recruiting campaign to expand the town's population. At the time, the town refused to sell them a lot.
According to the town, the psychological tests that all prospective members of the cooperative community were required to take showed that they were “not appropriate for the community,” but the Zabidats claimed that they were told that Arabs were not welcome there, a claim vigorously denied by administrators.
The High Court heard the case in 2007 and ordered the Israel Lands Administration to sell the Zabidats a lot in Rakefet, a procedure that took several years to complete. In their second case before the Court, decided Tuesday, the Court ordered that they be given a residence permit, overriding town by-laws which require residents to vote on the membership of all prospective residents.
Officials of both the ILA and Rakefet said that they accepted the Court's decision, but that they wanted procedures to be followed. “The Zabidats were subjected to the same membership criteria as everyone else who moves here,” said one Rakefet resident.
“It's not our fault that they are not the right 'fit' for this community, and it's not because they are Arab; we have turned down plenty of Jews as well. This is another example of the High Court trying to dissolve the Jewish aspects of the State of Israel, turning it into a 'state of all the people,' by forcing Jewish communities to accept any Arabs who decide they want to move in," they added.
The Galilee has lovely, picturesque Arab populated towns and villages. It is unknown what would happen if a Jewish family attempted to purchase a lot in an all Arab community.