Old Jaffa port
Old Jaffa port Israel News Photo: (file)

Plans for a religious-Zionist neighborhood in Jaffa (Yafo) have been approved once again – this time by the Tel Aviv District Court.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) had sued against the establishment of the small, 20-unit neighborhood, even though it passed all the stages of the municipal approval process. ACRI claimed that the Israel Lands Authority tender of last month, which was won by the BeEmunah Construction Company, was illegal.

Specifically, ACRI claimed that BeEmunah – which is run by a religious-Zionist group – planned to build only for the religious-Zionist population sector, thus discriminating against others.

Tel Aviv District Court Judge Yehuda Zaft, in rejecting the suit, included in his ruling the following criticism of ACRI: “I would note parenthetically that on the face of it, the petitioners’ position reflects a built-in contradiction. On the one hand, they claim against limiting the availability of the apartments to the national-religious sector in a manner that is discriminatory and unequal – while on the other hand, as can be learned from the petition itself, the petitioners have acted and are acting to find housing for the Arab community in Jaffa; it need not be assumed that they are seeking land for construction for everyone, but rather only for one specific sector.”

“Had the winner of this tender targeted the apartments for the Arab sector,” concluded Judge Zaft, “it appears that the petitioners would not have found anything wrong with this.”

Earlier, ACRI representatives had turned to the Attorney General and the Knesset Interior Committee, but these also turned them down.

Yisrael Zeira, chairman of BeEmunah, said in response, “The court ruling paves the way for the establishment of a new Jewish neighborhood in Jaffa.”

Yeshiva in Jaffa: Renewing a Tradition

The new neighborhood is being built in light of the increasing attractiveness of Jaffa as a religious-Zionist location, despite a significant Arab minority. As in other areas, the presence of a new yeshiva is a significant attraction. Headed by Rabbi Eliyahu Mali and opened only last year, the yeshiva has 30 students, and demand is growing. 

Rabbi Mali studied for several years in Yeshivat Merkaz HaRav, whose founder, the late Rabbi A. I. HaKohen Kook, began his Land of Israel rabbinical career in 1904 as "Chief Rabbi of Jaffa and the Neighboring Moshavot."

Some 20 families linked with the yeshiva live in
Jaffa, and more are expected this coming year.