5,000 protestors, both Arab and Jewish citizens, demonstrated in Tel Aviv against home demolitions in the Arab community on 4 February 2017. The demonstration was organized by a coalition of NGOs including the Mossawa Center.The demonstrators demanded recognition of Arab citizens’ right to housing in the Negev and across the country. They rejected the right of the government to demolish the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran and forcefully remove its residents. They called for no votes on the proposed discriminatory Kaminitz Bill, and cooperation from the government on community planning. The Kaminitz Bill, which would further undermine Arab housing rights, passed in its first reading in August and it has been prepared for second and third reading in the Knesset Internal affairs committee.
The Kaminitz Bill aims to increase home demolitions in Arab municipalities by increasing enforcement of laws against illegal construction. If implemented, the Kaminitz Bill would require that all homes and structures built illegally be demolished. The bill fails to address the underlying causes of illegal construction and, instead, unfairly punishes Arab communities, which often have no or out-of-date master plans and are unable to issue permits for legal construction. Between 2012 and 2014, 97% of administrative demolition orders were handed down in Arab municipalities. This indicates that there is an urgent need for urban planning in Arab communities to provide a legal route for residential construction.
The bill will exacerbate the housing shortage in Arab communities, forcing Arab families to live in overcrowded buildings. The Arab population in Israel requires an additional 13,000 homes per year, but, on average, only 7,000 homes are constructed. This increases the housing deficit by 6,000 homes per year. Housing in Arab municipalities has not been built quickly enough to meet the demand in the Arab community.The bill would cause further damage as it lessens the The Ministry of Finance and land administration’s authority to halt home demolitions. The Ministry of Finance and land administration will not be able to exercise their discretion to stop demolitions on a case-by-case basis.
The Israeli land administration in the ministry of Finance in cooperation with the Bedouin Administration, in the ministry of Agriculture which are controlled by the settler movement are increasing home demolitions in the Naqab. Um al-Hiran as well as Zarnok and Al Araqib villages are being evacuated and demolished and new Jewish towns are planned to be built in their place.
The Mossawa Center calls on members of the Knesset to stop the Kaminitz Law and its racist policy of home demolitions in the Arab community and to recognize Arab citizens’ right to housingand land. Mossawa encourages the Planning Administration in the Ministry of Finance to cooperate with Arab municipalities on updating master plans so that families are no longer forced to build illegally. Furthermore, the Mossawa Center calls on the Planning Administration to regularize existing construction and stop home demolitions in Arab communities. The Bedouin community must be granted full recognition of its historical land rights and supported on an equal basis as new Jewish localities are supported. New cities or villages can easily be planned as mixed Arab and Jewish. Racial separation in housing should be rejected as a policy