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Israeli Cabinet Advances Plan To Address Housing Shortage In Druze And Circassian Communities

Prime Minister Netanyahu proposes construction and development in response to protests over wind turbines

The Israeli Cabinet on Sunday advanced a plan for construction and development in Druze and Circassian communities, seeking to address a significant shortage of housing.

The proposal brought forward by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu follows rare violent protests last month by Druze residents of the Golan Heights against the construction of wind turbines on the strategically placed plateau.

 “The demonstrations were connected to frustration over the lack of construction and housing in their communities in the Galilee,” said Druze’s leaders.

“The two issues were separate and that the Druze community on the Israeli Golan had been influenced by incitement by their brethren on the Syrian side of the Heights, who were exploiting the issue of the turbines, which had been agreed upon previously,” said the Government officials.

“Today, we are bringing a plan to advance construction in, and the strengthening of, the Druze and Circassian communities,” said Netanyahu at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting. “We are going to invest unprecedented efforts and resources in order to close the gaps in housing, planning, and development.”

The premier had met with Sheikh Mowafaq Tarif, qadi (spiritual leader) of the Druze in Israel, and agreed to his request to freeze construction of the turbines over the Id al-Adha holiday, which is observed by both Druze and Muslims.

Work on the turbines may resume as soon as Tuesday.

Members of the Druze community protest in the Israel-annexed Golan Heights on June 21, 2023, against an Israeli wind turbine project reportedly planned in the agricultural lands of the village. Premier Netanyahu said that he was aware of the “distress” in the Druze communities over the housing shortage, calling it a “major problem.” JALAA MAREY/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGESprotested

“We want to deal with it and do so in a way that will really lift the impediments to planning and developing housing in the communities, including advancing new neighborhoods for discharged soldiers and young couples,” Netanyahu said.

“People are being discharged from service, sometimes outstanding service, and afterward they are unable to even buy a room. This hue and cry has reached us, and we are dealing with it.” 

Israeli Druze and Circassian men serve in the IDF, with a high proportion in combat roles.

As part of the plan, an inter-ministerial committee—to be chaired by the director general of the Prime Minister’s Office—will be established to reduce the obstacles to housing development and planning in the communities, and the Druze and Circassian local authorities will receive budgetary assistance.

In addition, state land that is appropriate for the planning and development of new neighborhoods for discharged soldiers and young couples will be identified, and a new master plan for 2024-2028 for the Druze and Circassian communities will be prepared.

Produced in association with Jewish News Syndicate

Edited by Judy J. Rotich and Newsdesk Manager

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