The Arab factions in Israel’s Knesset have asked the Barak government to approve the building of a new Arab city in return for their support of the government, reported Haaretz Wednesday.
The idea was put forward in talks between the Arab factions and Justice Minister Yossi Beilin, who is conducting negotiations with them as the envoy of Prime Minister Ehud Barak, the Israeli daily said.
The new city was the main request put forward in the talks with Beilin, whose office Tuesday confirmed the report. Haaretz said that Beilin supports the idea and has passed the request on.
From the Arab factions' point of view, such a city would ideally be built in the Galilee, but during the talks other locations were mentioned, including the Triangle area. Another possibility is the massive expansion of an existing town, such as Taibeh, according to the paper.
Sourcing the Housing Ministry, Haaretz said that of the 860,000 Arabs who reside in Israel, 303,000 live in the Galilee, 219,000 in the Haifa area and 206,000 in the Jerusalem area (6,500 in west Jerusalem).
Despite Beilin's support, opposition to a new Arab city can be expected from various quarters. In addition to "national" grounds, opponents of the idea are also likely to be concerned that such a project would have an adverse effect on the demographic balance in the Galilee, said the daily – Albawaba.com
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)