JERUSALEM (Aug. 23)
The Jewish National Fund plans to plant trees on an area of 10,000 dunams (2500 acres) in the Galilee, partly to prevent Arabs from seizing the land illegally.
The problem of unauthorized housing construction by Arab residents on land owned by the government has troubled the authorities for some time now. The concern is not only over large-scale violations of the building and planning codes, but also over the political implications of an increase in uncontrolled Arab settlements, especially in the Galilee where Arabs constitute half of the population.
A special committee, headed by Haim Kubersky, director-general of the Interior Ministry, is now studying the entire issue, including the aspect of illegal building by Jews, which is equally wide-spread.
However, the JNF decision is the first actual action taken to physically prevent Arabs from building on land owned by the government.
At the same time, the JNF is making large-scale investments to improve the land infrastructure in existing settlements. The Ministry of Agriculture and the Jewish Agency have decided recently to double the number of inhabitants in moshavim in the Galilee.