Freeze Blocks Arab J'lem Influx

The freeze on construction in in Judea and Samaria has increased Jewish demand for Jerusalem housing and stopped the flow of Arabs there.

Gil Ronen , | updated: 7:52 PM

Pisgat Zeev (in foreground)
Pisgat Zeev (in foreground)
Israel news photo: Flash 90

The freeze imposed by the Israeli government on construction for Jews in Judea and Samaria has had an unforeseen effect: it has raised Jewish demand for housing in northern Jerusalem, thus raising prices there and blocking the Arab influx to these neighborhoods. So said Aryeh King, who heads the Israel Lands Fund and is a prominent activist for strengthening the Jewish hold on Jerusalem.

King referred specifically to the neighborhoods of Pisgat Ze'ev, Neveh Yaakov and French Hill.

"The peak period of Arab influx into these neighborhoods was one and a half or two years ago, when [then-Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert wanted to divide the city and build a wall inside it,” King told Arutz Sheva's Hebrew newsmagazine Wednesday.

At that time, he explained, many of the Arabs who live beyond the wall made an effort to buy apartments on the 'Israeli' side of the wall so as not to be left out of Israel in case of a partition agreement. “Today, there is a problem because there is a problem throughout Jerusalem: we have a mayor who won't let [Jewish] people build. As a result there are many more Jews who want to buy or rent for every Jewish-owned apartment. As a result less and less of these apartments are being sold to Arabs because there is more Jewish demand... the demand is the same but the supply is much smaller.”

In French Hill, he said, the Arab presence has even begun to dwindle – with Jews filling the Arabs' places. The neighborhood is becoming more religious, he said, and many of the people moving in are immigrants from anglophone countries.

Another prominent activist for maintaining the Jewish nature of northwestern Jerusalem, Nerya Ofan, was arrested Tuesday and slapped with a military distancing order that forbids him from entering Pisgat Ze'ev and Neveh Yaakov, also in northwestern Jerusalem. Ofan had already been distanced from Judea and Samaria by an administrative order.

The order which prevents his entry to Judea and Samaria was extended and a new order – probably the first of its kind ever issued to a Jew – also forbids him from entering parts of Jerusalem. That order was signed by Home Front Commander, Major General Yair Golan. 

According to King, Ofan's activities centered on attempts to convince Jews not to sell their apartments to Arabs, and to employ fellow Jews in their businesses.

Ever since the early days of the organized modern Zionist endeavor, Jews and Arabs have been waging a battle for control of territory in the Land of Israel. Sometimes, the entry of Arabs into a Jewish area is a clearly intentional, nationalistic move, and sometimes it appears to be of a more spontaneous or economically driven nature. Almost always, however, the entry of Arabs into Jewish neighborhoods results in Jews' leaving the neighborhood and in an atmosphere of growing violence and harassment against Jews.

Jews who attempt to buy homes in Arab neighborhoods and villages face a nearly impossible task because Arabs tend to intimidate and threaten fellow Arabs who sell land to Jews. Jews, on the other hand, are not afraid to sell apartments to Arabs. As a result, even neighborhoods and towns originally built specifically for Jews – like Karmiel and Upper Nazareth in the Galilee – now have a growing Arab population.