Adalah calls to block expansion of Harish onto lands of adjacent Arab villages in Israel

Special request to expand city's planning area might be approved before Interior Ministry has even finished investigating potential consequences to Arab villages.

Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel sent a letter on 10 July 2017 to a subcommittee of Israel's national planning council demanding that it block a special request to expand the planning area of the Jewish town of Harish (pop. 969 in 2015) in the Triangle area of Israel at the expense of the lands of adjacent Arab villages.


The committee convened on 11 July 2017 to discuss Adalah's letter against the expansion of Harish's planning area, which was filed on behalf of the Public Committee Against Home Demolitions and Land Expropriations in Wadi Ara, an area overwhelming populated by Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel. Such a move would affect the future growth of surrounding Arab villages.


Adalah Attorney Myssana Morany wrote in the letter that the sought-after expansion of Harish's planning area violates Israel's planning and building law.


Morany further noted that a year ago the Interior Ministry established an investigative borders committee charged with researching the implications of the expansion of Harish's jurisdiction.


This committee has not yet completed its study of the proposal to expand Harish's jurisdiction and Adalah stresses that a rapid decision on expanding the planning area at this preliminary stage could potentially undermine the committee's eventual conclusions.


"Before the [Interior Ministry's borders] committee has even decided if there is justification to allocate the concerned land to Harish, a decision may nevertheless be made to add land to Harish's planning area. A decision of this sort would hinder the [borders] committee by establishing facts on the ground."


Attorney Morany wrote also "one cannot but wonder if this expedited alteration is not indeed a tool employed by the political echelon – the finance and housing ministers – to bypass the borders committee."


In August 2016, Adalah sent an initial letter to Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri and Interior Ministry Director General Orna Hozman Bechor demanding that they reject  Harish Local Council's request to expand its jurisdictional borders.


Adalah has been challenging the establishment of Harish, the process of land tenders there, and attempts to expand its municipal areas before Israeli land planning committees and courts since 2010.


The Israeli government has sought for many years to establish Harish as a Jewish town for around 100,000-150,000 residents. The purpose of this plan is to disrupt the contiguity of predominantly Arab towns and villages throughout Wadi Ara and to establish a Jewish presence in the area. The Arab localities neighboring Harish have tens of thousands of residents, and face severe land shortages, overcrowding, and poor socio-economic conditions.


CLICK HERE to read Adalah’s letter [Hebrew]