Haifa Planning Committee rules against confiscation of Arab land

The decision of the Haifa District Planning and Building Committee prevented gross violations of Arab landowners rights to property and safeguarded their basic source of livelihood. It also removed all the limitations on land use proposed by the plan.

On 8 March 2007, Adalah received the decision of the Sub-Committee for Objections within the Haifa District Planning and Building Committee, dated 20 February 2007, to accept the objection of Adalah against plans to earmark an area of land cultivated by Arab farmers in and around the area of Wadi al-Malak in the north of Israel as forested land. The stated goal of the plans was to create a man-made forest in the area, called the Kiryat Ata Forest. The Committee decided that, The plan will be amended in such a way that it will not include land plots that are in private ownership.

The Jewish National Fund, which initiated the plans, declared at a hearing on Adalahs objection held on 20 February 2007 that it would withdraw all private lands from its proposed plans. The plans cover a total area of close to 12,182 dunams, and include swathes of land which have been farmed by Palestinian Arabs for decades, even before the establishment of the state of Israel.

In August 2006, Adalah submitted two objections on behalf of 19 Arab farmers to the plans, entitled Local Master Plans G13449 and HBG/1237, to the Haifa District and Northern Planning and Building Committees. Adalah is still awaiting a decision on its objection from the Northern Planning and Building Committee.

In the objections, Adalah Attorney Suhad Bishara and Adalah Urban and Regional Planner Hana Hamdan argued that these lands provide Arab farmers with their basic source of livelihood, and therefore reassigning them as forested areas would deprive them of their income and violate their rights to property and freedom of occupation.

Adalah further argued that the lands owned by the farmers do not currently contain natural forests to be protected or developed. Therefore, there is no basis for them to be demarcated as forested land, in accordance with the plans. Moreover, there is no link between the current state of the lands and the stated goals of the plans.

Adalah emphasized that the farms located in the area covered by the plan represent an indivisible and essential part of the natural landscape and the tourist value of the area, and therefore must not be damaged. In addition, these plans contradict the National Master Plan TAMA 22 by exceeding the boundaries which it marks out for forests, Adalah maintained.

Adalah demanded that the committees conduct a thorough examination of the facts on the ground in the area, and withdraw the plans.

Related Links

  • Adalah - The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel
  • BY TOPIC: Palestinians in Israel