'Arab sector housing crisis is real - but solvable'

Regavim group calls on Arab public 'to adopt urban-style housing solutions, as it has in Nablus, Ramallah, and Hevron.'

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Flash 90

The Regavim Movement, a non-government organization dedicated to protecting Israel's land resources and battling illegal construction, reacted to the State Comptroller's recently-released report on the Arab sector’s housing crisis:

"The State Comptroller's report is clear and unequivocal: Despite the State of Israel’s concerted efforts and massive investment in planning, zoning, and marketing state land in Arab communities, the housing shortage in the Arab sector continues to deepen. However, the overcrowding in Israel’s Arab sector is not the result of discriminatory land-allotment policy; it is the result of improper implementation of local development plans, failure to enforce the law against illegal construction which obstructs implementation of municipal plans, and the unwillingness of this sector to undergo a gradual process of urbanization.

“The Israeli government is often accused of deliberately orchestrating a housing crisis in the Arab sector by creating a bottleneck of approved municipal master-plans. However, an analysis of the data, which is readily available to the public on the government's website, indicates that in the overwhelming majority of non-Jewish communities in the Haifa-North Region, there is a complete, up-to-date inventory of approved statutory plans for the construction of hundreds, even thousands of housing units in each community – in full compliance with the law and with standard and accepted procedure.

“The real culprit is not some imaginary discriminatory land-allocation policy. The wrench in the works is illegal construction, which obstructs the implementation of these approved plans and thus exacerbates the housing crisis – and this rampant, disruptive construction is a direct result of the policy of non-enforcement that has characterized the State of Israel's relationship with the Arab sector for decades.

“Another factor is the Arab sector‘s continued rejection of urban-style construction, with the oft-repeated claim that high-rise living is 'not suitable for Arabs.' Nonetheless, 20 and 30-storey buildings are not a rarity in the Arab cities of Ramallah, Nablus, and Gaza. The new city of Rawabi near Ramallah is a shining example of a modern urban center, built in accordance with a construction concept based on high-saturation housing that conserves valuable land resources.

The State of Israel must step up marketing of state-owned land in Arab settlements -exclusively for urban, high-saturation construction projects.

The Arab sector’s leaders and laypeople must be accept the facts: The resolution of their perpetual housing crisis, and the way to improve planning, construction and infrastructure in Arab communities is through meticulous enforcement of construction and planning laws, coupled with high-saturation urban design.”