This month an agreement was signed between the local municipalities of Megiddo and Ma'ale Iron and the city of Umm al-Fahm for the establishment of a joint Jewish-Arab Industrial and Employment Zone. The zone will be established in 'Ma'avar Salam', east of Ma'ale Iron and Umm al-Fahm and will be spread over an area of 600 dunams.
The celebratory event that took place in the local council of Megiddo to mark the signing of the agreement was attended by Heads of the local authorities: Hanan Erez, Megiddo; Michael Eiloz, Ma'ale Iron and Mohammed Mustafa, Mayor of Umm-al Fahm. Treasurers of the local municipalities were also present at the event as well as project head Yoel Siegel, Helmi Kittani Director of CJAED and Uzi Palagi from the Business Center at Kibbutz Givat Oz. At the meeting, key stakeholders in the project decided on the next steps including planning, funding and gaining permissions from the Interior Ministry and the Israel Land Administration. CJAED Director, Helmi Kittani commented, "The development of joint Jewish-Arab industrial zones is part of our vision at CJAED. This new zone in Wadi Ara that falls between the large city of Umm al-Fahm and its neighboring communities marks an important milestone. We are now progressing with joint Jewish-Arab joint industrial zones in the Galilee, Negev, Triangle and Carmel regions. I believe that once we establish a successful model, many joint Jewish-Arab industrial zones will be established across the country allowing for full integration of Israel's Arab communities into the mainstream economy".
CJAED has been appointed to assist with the establishment of joint industrial and employment zones by the Ministry for the Development of the Galilee and the Negev due to its knowledge and experience in implementing successful joint Jewish-Arab development projects. Currently, CJAED is working towards the establishment of three other joint Jewish-Arab industrial zones at Bar Lev (Al-Shaghour, Carmiel, Misgav and Mateh Asher), Mevo Carmel (Ir Carmel, Yoqneam Illit and Megiddo) and Negev Regional (Bnei Shimon, Rahat, Lehavim).
CJAED has long advocated for the inclusion of Arab municipalities in the administration of regional industrial zones. Industrial zones are geographic areas that the Ministry of Industry
and Trade endows with specific benefits to attract businesses to an area. Administration and management of a zone is typically the responsibility of local municipalities. Industrial zones are effective tools to generate increased employment opportunities for local communities, to increase expansion and development opportunities for local businesses and they serve as an additional source of tax income for the partner municipalities.
With both Jewish and Arab local governments facing land shortages within their municipal boundaries, joint industrial zones provide industrial/commercial space without sacrificing valuable land in city limits. Currently, of the 7085 dunams of industrial area in the Galilee, 87% is allocated to Jewish municipalities and just 13% is allocated to Arab municipalities. However, in this region Arabs comprise over 50% of the population. CJAED's projects are aimed to bridge this gap and encourage integration of the Arab sector into the mainstream Israeli economy at a municipal and community level. To read more on CJAED's joint Jewish-Arab Industrial Zones visit http://www.cjaed.org.il/Index.asp?CategoryID=56.