THEY MUST GO Page 212
Chapter 9: Time Runs Out
 
 
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212 THEY MUST GO

bnow added that of “geography.” But despite the awesome politi- bcal implication, in September 1976 the Ministry of Interior an- bnounced a “retroactive” legalizing of the illegal houses. And on bFebruary 16, 1978, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency was able to breport the following: “The Israel Lands Administration has bchanged its tactics with regard to illegal houses built by Arab bvillagers in Galilee on State-owned land without obtaining gov- bernment permits. Instead of bull dozing them, it is leasing the bland to the Arabs, who readily admit they are getting ‘a real bbargain.’

b“A case in point is the village of Iskal in lower Galilee, with ba population of 5,000. Over the years the local residents built bsome 300 houses without permits, leading to repeated conflicts bwith the Lands Administration. In three instances, the govern- bment sent in bulldozers to raze the houses. But that only in- bcreased the bitterness. Recently, the Lands Administration breached an agreement with the village council. It legalized the bbuildings retroactively and leased the land to the villagers at b1970 rates, which are relatively cheap.

b“Ahmad Abdul Hahman Assad, a building contractor, will bhave to pay the Lands Administration IL 50,000 for the land on bwhich he built his house 13 years ago. Assad is pleased with the bdeal ‘When I built this place it was illegal. Now I am paying for bit,’ he said. He will also receive permits to build additional bhouses on the leased land for his children.

b“The Mayor of Iskal, a known sympathizer with the Rakah bCommunist Party, feels the villagers have won a victory. ‘What bwe did was actually an illegal settlement,’ he said. ‘We simply bforced the government into the agreement.’ The Lands Admin- bistration has leased about 25 percent of the land to the village bcouncil for public purposes. A new mosque is under construc- btion and a new road is being built at government expense bamounting to IL 1.2 million.

b“News of the ‘bargain’ traveled fast in Galilee. Yaacov bVaknin, director of the Lands Administration, will meet this bweekend with representatives of other Arab and Druze villages bin Galilee to work out similar deals.”

bThat the startling decision to give the Arabs their illegal bhouses and the state land was a victory for them can hardly be bdoubted. The Arabs were more convinced than ever that time bwas on their side.

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THEY MUST GO Page 212
Chapter 9: Time Runs Out