At a Jaffa Convention roundtable discussion on 9 September, several prominent academics and politicians examined how to increase land and housing provision for the Arab population in Israel.
The Jaffa Convention is a forum that brings together Arab and Jewish citizens of Israel to discuss some of the most pressing issues in the relationship between the two populations. This roundtable discussion, which is part of a series of events, focused on the issue of land and housing shortages for the first time.
Haifa University Professor Rassem Khamaisi urged the Arab community to learn how work within the system to achieve increased provisions in the land and housing sector. He said that part of the problem was that too few Arabs get involved in the planning process, so they do not know how to use the system to serve their needs.
MK Dr Hanna Swaid also spoke at the conference and compared the housing crisis faced by Israelis in general to that of Israeli Arabs in particular, stating:
“All across the country, there’s an issue of building affordability. But in the Arab areas, it’s building accessibility. Even though the solution is very easy, no one has tried to solve this problem, because they don’t let Arabs put up their own planning committees and find ways to plan for new building.”
Ron Gerlitz, co-director of Sikkuy, the Association for the Advancement of Civic Equality in Israel, told the Convention that while things are changing slowly, they are changing. He pointed to increased willingness from the Ministry of Housing to engage in a discussion on planning with the Arab community and implored the Arab community to push for further dramatic change on the issue of land and development.