CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - On Tuesday, Israeli Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit (Kadima) announced his intentions to build a new Arab city in the Galilee.
Sheetrit revealed his plan on a visit to the Arab city of Umm al-Fahm.
"My goal is to establish a new Arab city in the Galilee," Sheetrit said. "The plan is to build a modern city in which young couples could buy an apartment and live," he said, adding that he hoped the government would approve the plan this year.
Arab members of Knesset (MKs) responded with cautious optimism to Sheetrit's announcement.
"We have had enough of promises and hope for deeds," MK Jamal Zahlka, chairman of the Arab Israeli Balad party, told YNet.
"The Arab society yearns for a city, but will it be established? I doubt it," Zahlka said.
Dr. Amal Jamal, head of the Political Science Department at Tel Aviv University, referred to Sheetrit's remarks at Sunday's Cabinet meeting, calling on the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to level neighborhoods in the Gaza Strip in response to mounting Kassam rocket attacks.
"This is undoubtedly a good decision, but there were other ministers before Sheetrit who made similar declarations. I hope he doesn't plan to build this city instead of the neighborhoods he recommended leveling in Gaza," Jamal said.
"I hope this is part of the government's new policy and not an elections slogan," MK Talab el-Sana (United Arab List - Ta'al) said.
Science, Culture and Sport Minister Raleb Majadele (Labor - Meimad) said such a move would give the Arab population more of sense of belonging to Israel.
"The government has internalized that the Arab population has equal rights," he said.
In November, the Muslim minister told the press that Israel has no jurisdiction on the Temple Mount.
Meanwhile, Ursan Yassin, mayor of the Arab town of Shfaram, told MK Ruhama Avraham-Balila (Kadima), who chairs the Knesset committee planning the country's 60th anniversary celebrations, that residents of his city planned to celebrate with the rest of the country.
"The 40,000 residents of Shfaram feel they are a part of the State of Israel," Yassin said. "Most of the residents share the desire to participate in the festivities," he said.
"We will not raise our children to hate the country. This is our country and we want to live in coexistence with its Jewish residents," said the mayor.
The chairwoman praised Yassin's "courageous statements" and called on other Israeli Arab leaders "to express what a large part of their public feels" so the 60th anniversary celebrations will be "an excellent opportunity to emphasize the unifying aspects shared by all sectors in the country."
Source: YNet news service