Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Tuesday that a committee has been established in the Prime Minister’s Office to come up with a national plan within 90 days to eliminate the increasing level of violence and crime in Arab-Israeli society. The prime minister met on Monday with a team of ministers and other government officials “in light of the serious problem that has arisen in Arab society,” Netanyahu said at the opening of the meeting.The 2018 Personal Security Index released by the Abraham Initiatives in July found that 61% of all murder and manslaughter victims in Israel were Arab citizens, despite Arabs only constituting a fifth of Israelis. Additionally, more than one-third (36%) of Arab citizens of Israel have a sense of personal insecurity in the community in which they live due to violence, compared to 13% of Jews. Similarly, 59% of Arab citizens are afraid of being victims of violence.“We meet here in an attempt to bring about change,” Netanyahu said. “This causes immense suffering to the [Arab] residents and major harm to the State of Israel.”The committee will be overseen by Deputy Cabinet Secretary Ronen Peretz, who is also the acting PMO director-general.In addition, it was announced at the meeting that increased police presence in Arab municipalities and villages will be maintained, and that a budget will be allocated for opening additional police stations in high-crime areas.More police were allocated to these areas earlier this month, after massive protests against violence in the Arab sector took place across the country, including demonstrations outside the prime minister’s office and other ministries.In 2018, police stations were opened in five Arab-Israeli communities, and between 2016 until the end of 2018, some 550 Arab police officers were recruited, according to the Abraham Initiatives report. This includes 79 female Arab officers. However, a cut of NIS 400 million in the budget for construction of police stations – mainly in Arab society and the periphery – has reduced the number of police stations that were expected to open in 2019 and 2020.This month, Abraham Initiatives announced a new program to combat violence on a grassroots level, as well.“The police and the government must uproot violence and crime. But the change also needs to come from within society, and Arab citizens want to take part in this process,” said Ola Najami-Yusuf and Ruth Levin-Chen, co-directors of Abraham Initiatives’ safe communities project.Abraham Initiatives is now offering a personal security course in Acre, Lod, Majd el-Kurum, Jisr e-Zarka and Arara, and plans to launch another five before the end of the year. Each locale has two tracks for both teenagers and women.“Teenagers don’t want to live under the same violence that older generations are leaving them,” Levin-Chen told The Jerusalem Post. “We also know that women are usually in 99% of the cases the victims of crime. They are the victims of violence. They do not want to be a part of it. Mothers and sisters, they are the ones trying to change the situation.”Each 60-hour course involves 20 sessions, and is focused on personal safety issues, including familiarization with the local police station, first aid, preventing accidents in the home, raising awareness of child safety, road safety, protection against sexual assault and self-defense.The course seeks to achieve a fundamental change in the character of policing the Arab-Israeli citizens; to encourage dialogue between the police, the local authority and local residents; and to promote community initiatives to eradicate violence, a press release explained.Levin-Chen said that to counter violence and crime in Arab-Israeli society, there should be a change of policy, such as the one the Prime Minister’s Office is working on, but that additionally, actions should be taken by the citizens themselves.“We sometimes hear people say… that no government plan will be able to create change and that Arab citizens don’t want to change,’’ Levin-Chen said. “We can see in every meeting of the course and in our work in the field that Arab citizens are really willing and want to do what it takes to change the situation and to combat this phenomenon of violence.”“They want to live in safer places,” she concluded.