Adalah and the Arab Center for Alternative Planning Submit Objection and Letter to Minister of Construction and Housing Against Plans and Bids for Newly Proposed Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Town of Harish in Arab Wadi ‘Ara Area in Israel

Adalah: “The publication of bids and the submission of new detailed plans for Harish before the approval of master plan indicate that the planning authorities do not intend to examine the objections in properly”

On 13 October 2010, Adalah and the Arab Center for Alternative Planning (ACAP) sent a letter to the Minister of Construction and Housing, Ariel Atias, demanding that the ministry cancel bids which were recently issued for the establishment of the new ultra-orthodox Jewish town of Harish.

This proposed town for 150,000 inhabitants is to be located in the Wadi' Ara area, in the Triangle (in central Israel), which is heavily populated by Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel. The proposed town is planned to border six Arab towns of over 41,000 residents and it will actually stretch to the currently constructed areas of four surrounding Arab towns: Kufr Kara, Meiser, Barta'a, and Arrara. As a result of the plan, the Arab town of Umm El-Kafr will become an enclave within the planned city of Harish.

The publication of bids indicates that the Ministry of Construction and Housing has begun the substantial planning of Harish despite that fact that the master plan has not yet been approved, as required by the Planning and Building Law - 1965. The town's master plan remains in the initial stages of submission with the planning authorities. Many objections were made against the master plan; a hearing is scheduled for 11 November 2010 on the objections. In July 2010, Adalah and the ACAP submitted an initial objection to the plan.  The objection to the plan and the letter was submitted by Adalah Attorney Suhad Bishara and Urban and Regional Planner Inaya Jris of ACAP.

In the letter, Adalah and ACAP argued that as long as the master plan is not approved, the Ministry of Construction and Housing is not authorized to issue bids for the execution of projects such as those regarding Harish. Accordingly, the bids which have been made are illegal and should be cancelled.

In addition to illegal bids, a detailed plan for the future town has also been submitted. Adalah and ACAP submitted objections to the Harish Planning Committee's submission of the first detailed plan for the town. Adalah and ACAP also argued in the letter that the approval of the master plan must also precede the detailed plans, which has not yet been approved. In addition, the initial objections made against the master plan have yet to be discussed (except for Supreme Court petitions against the plans which are still pending). These steps may lead to serious changes in the master plan or even its cancellation. Thus, the submission of the detailed plan grossly violates the rights of the public to object to the planning authorities procedures. It also breaches the duty of the planning authorities to address these objections seriously.

The Letter (Hebrew)