Nazareth is the largest Arab city in Israel. Its population numbers about 60,000 inhabitants and it is situated within an urban space that incorporates 80,000 inhabitants spread in ten contiguous localities, over a municipal boundary area of approximately 90 thousand dunams.
Within the area there are different population groups (Jews, Christians and Muslims). Moreover, there are marked developmental disparities between Nazareth Ilit, which has been planned and developed as a new town, compared with Nazareth and its surrounding localities, which develop traditionally. Building is based on self-building on private land. Lately, Nazareth is witnessing some ethnic tension, a manifestation of the socioeconomic disparities within the city and between it and neighboring localities. Nazareth is attempting to prepare itself for the 2000s. However, institutional, social and economic barriers are impeding these preparations. Today, each of the localities in the Nazareth metropolitan region is equipped with a master plan or a new master plan. The plans lack coordination, hardly regard existing affinities between localities or their being a single functional space. Nazareth has witnessed a process of government offices moving to Nazareth Ilit, to the juncture between the two cities, which has become a new administrative center for both cities - creating a single urban unit.
Current trends could be summarized in several points:
(a) There is an evident deceleration of natural growth among the Arab population in the Nazareth region, but such that does not impact the accelerated growth rate of the population, expected to reach the 400,000 mark by the year 2020.
(b) The Arab population is undergoing a selective urbanization process, which entails new consumer habits, and a materialistic, instrumental modernization. However, the society remains conservative and traditional and retains normative values.
(c) Disparities within and between localities in developmental levels continue to grow, particularly on the basis of ethnic affiliation ethnic. Nazareth Ilit and Migdal Ha’Emek are developed compared with under-developed Arab localities. These disparities have particularly broad implications on the largest Arab spatial center in Israel, with Nazareth expected to become the fourth largest city in the country.
(d) The developmental potential in Nazareth has not as yet been fully realized.
Institutional support is required to strengthen current positive trends and redress prevalent distortions. This can be implemented on three levels:
Planning level: There is an urgent need for a general master plan for the Nazareth region according to National Outline Plan 35, a cemented urban fabric for Nazareth, or a metropolitan plan for the Nazareth core. The plan must consider the entire region as a single functional spatial area, in which residential mobility will develop between the areas comprising the region, and one that will reduce the separation between Arab and Jewish residential areas, just beginning to change.