Israel has approved a plan to build a new Druze town in the North. The plan, an initiative of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was approved Tuesday by the National Planning and Building Council, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office, and will be located near Tiberias.
Netanyahu said in a statement that it will be the first Druze town built in Israel since the state’s founding in 1948.
The town “will advance the Druze population economically and socially,” he said.
But the decision was met with criticism by members of the Druze community because the plot of land was formerly the location of two Palestinian villages before 1948, Haaretz reported.
Sources close to one of the spiritual leaders of the Druze community told the paper that they were astonished by the decision which they said didn’t take into account the problems with the existing Druze villages, which have little room to grow. Additionally, they fear backlash on account of the former villages of Hittin and Namrin which were depopulated in 1948.
There are 18 recognized Druze towns — 14 in the Galilee and four in the Golan. The towns are built on the slopes of hills and suffer from significant planning limitations due to their locations near nature reserves.
The new town is set to be built near an urban area on land that is suitable for development and close to centers of employment.