First Town Specifically for Druze to Be Built in Galilee

YERUSHALAYIM -
Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon seen at the honorary event for Druze soldiers, October 11, 2015. Photo by Ariel Hermoni/Flash90
Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon (L) seen at the honorary event for Druze soldiers, October 11, 2015. (Ariel Hermoni/Flash90)

The National Planning Council on Tuesday recommended the establishment of a new settlement for Israel’s Druze population – the first-ever town to be built specifically for the Druze sector. The town would be located in the lower Galilee, in the area of other existing Druze villages and towns.

The town, which would be established in the area of the Golani Junction, would have 400 housing units to start, mostly private dwellings. Plans for further growth would be filed as needed.

Although they speak Arabic, Israel’s Druze population are distinct from Muslims in numerous ways. Concentrated in the Galilee and Golan, the Druze are generally considered very loyal to Israel, and Druze youths are drafted into the IDF. Many Druze serve in combat roles, and in fact have the highest recruitment rate to combat units of any specific population group in Israel.

Housing Minister Yoav Galant praised the decision, saying that Israelis and Druze “have a special connection. We in the government are committed to ensuring their prosperity. This project provides a solution for some important issues that affect the Druze sector, which like other sectors, is suffering from a housing shortage, resulting from old infrastructure and topographic challenges. We in the Ministry have been working on this project from its inception and will continue to do so.”

In addition to the Druze town, the Council recommended establishing a new town in the Negev specifically for Bedouin. There are several such cities already, which were established as the government’s answer to the continued expansion of illegal Bedouin settlements, which encroach on state lands and have caused extensive environmental damage, officials say. The new town, the Council said, “will further close the gaps that have grown between the Bedouin population and the rest of Israel’s citizens, ensuring that Negev Bedouin are able to live as equal citizens and fulfill their obligations to the state in an equitable manner.”