Israeli-Arab leadership, PM reach budget deal worth 900m to avert strike

A 5-year plan would include a 350m budget and another 135m would include funding for community and nature centers and youth groups. Another 150m would go to boosting police and security.

August 31, 2015 22:16
1 minute read.

Ayman Odeh (3rd R), head of the Joint Arab List, reacts with members of the party after exit poll results in Nazareth March 17. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with the top four leaders of the Joint List on Monday, reaching a last minute compromise that would add NIS 900 million to the budget for the Arab sector, the Prime Minister’s Office announced.

The deal calls for NIS 150m. infusion this year in budgetary support for local authorities in the Arab sector as well as another NIS 50m. for development.

The parties agreed to an outline that calls for a multiyear economic integration program to be developed within 30 days.

The five-year plan would include a NIS 350m. budget and another NIS 135m. in funding for community and nature centers as well as youth groups. An additional NIS 150m. would go to boosting police and security. And from 2017 to 2018, there would be a development budget of NIS 100m.

The programs are to be carried out by the relevant government ministries in full cooperation with representatives of the Arab authorities and Arab society.

“I am the prime minister of all citizens of Israel and the aid plan that we agreed on today is a significant correction and another step designed to integrate Israeli Arabs into Israeli society as equals,” Netanyahu said.

The meeting included Prime Minister’s Office director-general Eli Groner, Joint List chairman Ayman Odeh (Hadash), United Arab List’s Masud Gnaim, Balad head Jamal Zahalka and Ta’al’s Ahmad Tibi.

The National Committee of Arab Heads of Municipal Authorities, headed by Sakhnin Mayor Mazen Ganaim, also took part.

After the meeting with Netanyahu took place, the Arab leaders met in Nazareth to discuss their next move: whether or not to reject the government offer and hold a strike on Tuesday.

Tibi welcomed the prime minister’s and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon’s response to the demand of the Joint List leaders, saying that this is a decision in the right direction.

They demanded an immediate budget increase for Arab municipalities and education for this year.

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