Director General of the Ministry of Interior, Mr. Amram Qalaji, called for an investigation regarding the issue of annual income from property tax imposed on refineries in the Haifa Bay area, amounting to nearly 85 million shekels, and how it should be distributed to neighboring cities of Haifa, Kiryat Ata, Nesher, Kiryat Bialik, Kiryat Motskin, Kiryat Yam, as well as to local councils of the towns of Rkhsaim, Kiryat Tavon, Isifya, and Daliyat Al-Carmel, and the regional councils of Zebulun and Hof HaCarmiel.
In the public release made on May 18, 2012, the Ministry of Interior did not address the criteria used to select the towns mentioned. However, it appears clearly that all towns who are in the vicinity of 9 km from the refineries are on the list of who will receive distribution of funds, except for the Arab towns of Shfa’amer and Basmet Tavon despite the fact that the border of these towns’ jurisdiction areas are 8 km from the refineries.
The Arab Center for Alternative Planning (ACAP) stressed that there is no logical explanation that justifies why Kiryat Tavon is among the towns on the list who will receive part of the financial distribution; however adjacent town Basmat Tavon, which is closer to the refinery, is not among the list. The attached map shows the nearest point of Kiryat Tavon’s border, which is about 9 km from the refineries, while the closest borders of the towns of Basmat Tavon and Sh’a'amer are 8.5 and 8 km respectively.
ACAP also emphasized that in addition to the geographic distance from the refineries, it is logical to take into consideration “wind” as a factor to determine which towns are most affected by the smoke of the refinery factories, and thus should be a criteria for the selection of towns to receive the tax distribution. As known, the natural direction of wind in Israel is from west to east or south-west to east. Thus, this makes Basmat Tavon and Shfa’amer more affected than other surrounding towns.
ACAP believes that this is only a continuation of the discriminatory approach adopted by the Ministry of Interior several years ago in the distribution of income from the property tax imposed on regional industrial areas, which fails to include Arab towns and villages.
Mr. Raja Khoury, administrative manager of ACAP, stated that it was not reasonable for decision makers in Israel to ignore Arab towns in all matters that may benefit them. He added that ACAP has raised the issue to the local authorities of Basmat Tavon and Shfa’amer and made them aware of the possibility to submit a legal objection within the maximum 30 day period from the date that the publication was made (18/5/12). Khoury stressed that ACAP would assist the local authorities and provide them with professional planning assistance in the professional objection submitted to the Ministry of Interior and Director Amram Qalaji.