The Interior Ministry told the Knesset on Monday that the government had no plans to “Judaize” the Galilee, and was planning the establishment of a new Arab city and Druse village.

The parliament’s Interior Committee met at the behest of MK Hanna Swaid (Hadash) to discuss press reports that suggested a new government plan to move Jews to the Galilee in order to offset Arab population growth in the region.

Swaid asked the Interior Ministry representative at the Monday meeting, Yael Solomon from the ministry’s Planning Administration, if there was any such plan in the ministry operating under the rubric of “Judaizing the Galilee” or “changing the demographic balance.”

Solomon told the committee no such plan existed. In fact, Interior Ministry planners were hard at work on plans for a new Druze village and a new Arab city in the northern region, alongside the new Jewish town of Shiboleth, she said.

MK Dov Khenin (Hadash) openly questioned the claim. “The government is continuing to fool us all,” he said, insisting there were government plans for Jewish settlement in the Negev and Galilee.

A representative of the Settlement Division of the World Zionist Organization, which operates under the aegis and direction of the Prime Minister’s Office and is responsible for founding new towns, called the press reports about “Judaization” plans “spin,” and insisted there were currently no plans underway for new Jewish towns.

It was unclear if the Settlement Division representative was referring to any new Jewish towns being planned — such as Shiboleth — or simply to the planning alleged to be taking place in the press reports.

MK David Tzur (photo credit: Knesset)

MK David Tzur (photo credit: Knesset)

MK David Tzur (Hatnua), who chaired the meeting, said he believed the government’s claim there were no “Judaization” plans, but that it was crucial to advance the establishment of a new Arab town as quickly as possible.

The debate included fierce criticism from Arab MKs over the government’s planning policies.

MK Hanin Zoabi (Balad) claimed Israel’s Arab population grew sevenfold since the founding of the state in 1948, but that the urban land allotted to the population by planners had stayed the same, while MK Afo Agbariyah (Hadash) complained that Arab cities and villages were underserved in government programs for industrial zoning and employment services.