Israel's National Planning and Building Commission, headed by Avigdor Yitzhaki, today recommended sending for cabinet approval a plan to establish a new Druze town in the lower Galilee. This is the first time that the Commission has ever recommended the establishment of a new Druze town.
The Commission's decision was not unanimous; the vote was 22 in favor and 3 against. Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel representative Itamar Ben-David submitted an alternative proposal, under which the location for establishing the new town would not be recommended, and the representatives of the Israel Nature and Natural Parks Protection Authority and the Ministry of Environmental Protection also supported this proposal. The environmental agencies explained that there were a number of alternatives to establishing the town, and they believed that the one now selected is the worst. They explained, however, that they were opposed to the location of the new town, not the new town itself.
By the Commission's decision, the new town will be located in land belonging to Lower Galilee Regional Council, south of the Horns of Hattin National Park and north of Golani Industrial Zone and Highway 77, on a site called Ahuzat Naftali. Under the plan, a town will be established there, with 400 housing units initially planned. The town is expected to grow in the longer term.
Minister of Construction and Housing Yoav Galant welcomed the decision, saying, "We and the Druze have an alliance of brotherhood. We are committed to them, and it is our responsibility to take care of this sector's welfare and prosperity. I welcome the prime minister's initiative. There is a real need to help the Druze population, which faces housing problems resulting from outdated infrastructure and challenging topography, among other things. The ministerial team and I have been involved in this effort from the early stages, and we will continue to watch over it and make sure that construction of the town is efficient and meets the highest standards, until the project is completed."
The National Planning and Building Commission today said, "The recommendation to establish the town follows a November 18, 2012 cabinet resolution that a Druze town should be established in Western Galilee. After considering 10 different possible sites, the planning team found the Ahuzat Naftali to be the most suitable, given its proximity to the Tiberias municipal area, existing infrastructure, the national road network, and industrial zones, and after making sure that the Horns of Hattin battlefield would not be affected by the new town."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on January 5, 2016
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