The Bemuna ("in faith") Company, owned by settlers, has recently won an Israel Land Administration (ILA) bid for a construction project in Jaffa.
The land in question, however, is adjacent to the Ajami neighborhood – one of the oldest Arab neighborhoods in the mixed city, which stretches south of Old Jaffa – and since Bemuna's declared motto is the Judaization of mixed cities the likes of Jaffa, Jerusalem and Lod, the local Arab community is up in arms over the project.
The company won an ILA bid for the construction of 20 housing units, but it may eventually build up to 200 units. The project, said to be on its way in a matter of months, will be marketed exclusively to young religious couples, at a price 10% lower than the current property value in the area.
The project will also include a synagogue, a yeshiva and mikveh – a traditional bath facility used to achieve ritual purity in the Jewish faith.
The fight to stop the construction has already begun: The Association for Civil Rights in Israel filed an appeal with the ILA, demanding it hold the sale since "Bemuna's intentions are tainted with racism."
The ILA rejected the demand, saying that it "does not have the resources to probe the marketing motives of the companies bidding in its tenders."
The policy, added the ILA's letter, "extends to all enterprises, and the ILA does not interfere in the way which they transfer the title rights (to prospective buyers)."
"A young, national-religious couple looks for several elements when buying a home. They look for a community of similar principles and the right educational system, and they want their home to be in a place with added ideological value," said Beemuna CEO Israel Zeira.
"The people living next to our projects benefit at well, since their neighbors are a public of high quality, which raises real estate values."
The residents of Jaffa, however, seem unconvinced by the promise of neighborly relations. "This means war," said a member of the city's Arab residents' committee. "We will not tolerate this and we will not allow this neighborhood to be built. We will petition the High Court."