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Israel Adopts Proposal to Prevent Arabs Owning Land

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this is just wrong, and clearly racist in form.

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Israel Adopts Proposal to Prevent Arabs From Owning Some Rural Land

By Jack Katzenell

Associated Press Writer

Tuesday, July 9, 2002; 11:25 AM

JERUSALEM –– The Israeli government has approved a proposal that would prevent Arab citizens of Israel from purchasing land in some rural communities, effectively restricting them to Jewish residents.

The plan must still clear several hurdles in parliament, though it is considered likely to win approval. Meanwhile, liberal and moderate Israelis vowed Monday to fight the proposal, saying it amounts to discrimination.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's coalition government adopted the plan at a Cabinet meeting Sunday, where it was backed by right-wing and religious parties.

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said the Labor party "will fight with all its power against the racist decision."

Dan Meridor, a minister who formerly belonged to Sharon's right-wing Likud party but has since moved to the political center, said if the law is passed it would be seen by Israel's enemies as proof that Zionism is racism, a charge made by some in the Arab and Muslim world.

"Israel is the state of the Jewish people, but because it is a Jewish state it must not practice against its non-Jewish citizens the kind of discrimination to which Jews were subjected in the diaspora," Meridor told Israel Radio.

Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein strongly advised the Cabinet not to adopt the proposal on the grounds that it would deepen the rift between Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel, his spokesman Yaakov Galanty said.

Arabs make up more than 1 million of Israel's 6.5 million citizens. Most Arabs and Jews live in separate communities although the cities of Jerusalem, Haifa and Acre are mixed. Many Arabs from Nazareth have rented or bought apartments in the neighboring Upper Nazareth unhindered, even though the government intended it to be a Jewish town.

However, anyone wishing to move into a rural area that the government has designated as a "community settlement," has to be accepted by a reception committee.

The Cabinet decision goes against a Supreme Court ruling in March 2000 that held that Adel Qaadan, an Israeli Arab, must be allowed to build his home in the Jewish community settlement of Katzir. He has been repeatedly rejected.

That court decision overturned a 52-year-old state policy of restricting land sales to Arabs while building towns and villages for Jews all over the country.

Despite the court ruling two years ago, Qaadan and his family have continued to be turned down when making applications to lease land in Katzir. Qaadan accused the local authority in Katzir of contempt of court.

"Now they (the Cabinet ministers) have fanned the flames with this wretched decision – it is discrimination pure and simple," Qaadan told Israel Radio.

However, Education Minister Limor Livnat, who submitted the proposal to the Cabinet, said all Israeli governments had supported the idea of achieving a Jewish majority in Galilee, where Katzir is located.

Livnat, who belongs to the Likud party, said Katzir was founded for reasons of national security, with the express purpose of having a Jewish community in a predominantly Arab area, close to the border with the West Bank.

The chairman of the local authority in Katzir, Dubi Sandrov, said that following the Supreme Court ruling two years ago, the Israeli Islamic movement has been encouraging Arabs to apply to move to Katzir.

He said the Israel Lands Administration offers to lease plots for homes in Arab towns for as little as $1,000. Some Arabs are prepared to pay $80,000 for a plot in Katzir. Other Arabs offer to buy homes from Jewish residents in Katzir for double the going rate or more, he said.

"There are (Arab) political elements that are trying to push the Jewish population out," he said.

However some Israeli Arabs are attracted to Jewish areas because the schools, infrastructure and services are much better than in the underfunded Arab towns.

Qaadan said he is willing to send his children to Jewish schools where the language of instruction is Hebrew, not Arabic. "My dream is to live as an equal among equals," he said.

If the Cabinet proposal is submitted to parliament it will probably pass because the right wing and religious parties have a solid majority. However, the process of legislation could be long, and the legality of the Cabinet decision may also be challenged in the Supreme Court.

The case does not involve the more than 3 million Palestinians who live in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and do not have Israeli citizenship.

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i say all borders should be eliminated and the u.n. should make it all an internationally monitored zone until a more permanent solution is reached. not allowing palestinians to have a place to live is insane. i love the way the u.s. wants to fight terrorism, but what ever happened to freedom? todays minds would consider thomas paine, james madison, paul revere, and george washington terrorist. btw, racism sux!

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