Budget cuts to cost Arab families NIS 800 a month

Mossawa Center head : Implications of budget cuts to cost Israeli Arabs more than double amount predicted by Lapid.

June 3, 2013 21:47
2 minute read.
Finance Minister Yair Lapid/

Lapid looking sullen 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

Planned budget cuts will cost Arab families an average of NIS 800 a month, Mossawa Center director Jafar Farah said Monday, more than double the NIS 300 a month that Finance Minister Yair Lapid estimated.

Even though Arabs represent 20 percent of the population, they only received 6% of the budget’s funds and constitute just 6.2% of government employees, he said.

Farah spoke at a conference at the Knesset on the budget’s implications for Israel’s Arab population.

Deputy Finance Minister Micky Levy (Yesh Atid) called for establishing a regular forum on Arab inequality.

“We cannot solve this problem in one fell swoop,” he said. “We must establish a forum of Knesset members and the local authorities that will meet every month and a half. The forum will examine how to remove barriers and secure funds to pass on to the authorities.”

The committee will be chaired by Levy and will include MKs Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al), Hanna Sweid (Hadash) and Basel Ghattas (Balad).

“The state’s attitude toward the Arab and Beduin sector is a disgrace,” Welfare Minister Meir Cohen (Yesh Atid) said at the meeting. A lack of air conditioning in classrooms was embarrassing, he said.

Cohen said he would cancel the policy of requiring matching funds for poor Arab authorities that could not meet their financial requirements.

Funds set aside for Arabs were not taken advantage of because of too many restrictions, Construction and Housing Ministry director-general Shlomo Ben-Eliyahu said. Only NIS 43 million of the NIS 90m. allotted from 2010-2012 was spent, he said.

“There’s no shortage of funds for the Arab sector for development planning and putting houses on the market,” Ben-Eliyahu said, “but local authorities need more money as well.”

MK Reuven Rivlin (Likud- Yisrael Beytenu) said Arab politicians were partly to blame for the situation.

“If my dream came true and Arab parties were in the coalition, they would have political power and all these problems would be solved,” he said.

A study by the Taub Center to be released on Tuesday found that general inequality in Israel has grown over time, but more pronounced differences have emerged between certain groups, including Jews and Arabs.

“Over the years there has been a rise in the contribution of residential location, sector (Jews/Arabs) and number of children to inequality,” the report said. “This indicates a widening of gaps between the center and the periphery of the country, between Jews and Arabs and between smaller and larger families."

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