Arabs frustrated with budget delay in NIS 15 billion for sector

MK Yousef Jabareen tells ‘Post’ that the proposed plan does not address all socioeconomic needs of the community.

December 28, 2015 02:35
1 minute read.
Yousef Jabareen

Yousef Jabareen. (photo credit: KNESSET)

The government decided to postpone a decision until Wednesday on whether to approve additional budget funds for a five-year development plan in the Arab sector.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed the cabinet Wednesday to intensify parts of the plan that are concerned with enforcing the law and encouraging construction in minority communities.

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The five-year plan is reportedly estimated at NIS 15 billion, which would increase funding for housing, education, boosting the employment of Arab women, infrastructure, welfare services and public transport.

A budget deal has long been in the works, with Netanyahu deciding at the end of August to transfer a budget supplement of NIS 900m. to Arab municipalities, but talks have stalled.

Joint List MK Yousef Jabareen (Hadash), told The Jerusalem Post following the cabinet decision that “decades of discrimination against the Arab community has resulted in its poor socioeconomic status, the poorest among all groups in Israel.”

Though Jabareen agrees the government’s suggested plan is a step in the right direction, it “does not address all the socioeconomic needs of the community and falls short of bridging the historical gaps between Jews and Arabs in Israel.”

The comprehensive plan prepared by the representatives of the Arab community demands NIS 32b. to bridge these gaps, while the government is suggesting less than half of that, he noted.

“We have a sour history with Israeli governments that declared plans that are not implemented on the ground, and we hope that this will not be more of the same.”

Jafar Farah, the director of Haifa’s Mossawa Center – The Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens in Israel, told the Post, “We are not surprised by the foot-dragging practiced by the Netanyahu government as a draft plan has been laying since March in the Finance Ministry.”

Of course they did not accept the recommendations of this plan, complained Farah, whose NGO had a part in drafting the Arab plan.

“Now, more than a month after the budget was passed and after distributing NIS 40b., only crumbs remain for a fifth of the state’s population,” he added.

“We demand a solution to poverty, unemployment and the housing shortage,” declared Farah, adding that “this is Netanyahu’s responsibility.”

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