High Court Permits Arab Bids for Afula Homes to Go Through

Construction work on new homes outside Afula. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Twenty-seven Arab families have been awarded the right to build private homes in Afula, traditionally a Jewish town, by the High Court, which reversed a lower court ruling that a tender for the lots that were auctioned off by the Israel Lands Administration was conducted in an improper manner. The Nazareth District Court had canceled the tender after four Jewish bidders petitioned the court, claiming that the tender process had been conducted improperly – after Arabs who are not residents of the town won all 45 lots.

The plaintiffs accused the Arabs of conspiring among themselves to offer very high payments for the lots, which is illegal under ILA rules. Sources close to the plaintiffs also claimed that “organizations with an interest in settling Arabs in Jewish towns” were funding the purchase of the lots. The lower court decided that given all the evidence, the tender should be canceled. The Arab defendants filed an appeal with the High Court, which partially reinstated the results of the tender. Eighteen of the winning bids were canceled, while the rest were allowed to go through.

Speaking to Yisrael Hayom, attorney Moshe Yanai, who represented the Arabs, said that “as an Israeli I believe in democracy. The justice system must operate without favoritism. I felt that it was my obligation to represent these clients and prove to them and myself that Israel stands for justice. I am glad that the High Court does not take any issues not related to the law into consideration.”