Report that Netanyahu may renege on budget deal angers Arab leaders

The conditions are expected to include issues of law enforcement and compliance with building regulations, Channel 2 reported on Monday evening.

January 6, 2016 05:10
2 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’s decision to appoint Likud ministers Ze’ev Elkin and Yarin Levin to oversee enforcement of conditions for the NIS 10-15 billion budget deal for the sector enraged Arab leaders on Tuesday.

The conditions are expected to include issues of law enforcement and compliance with building regulations, Channel 2 reported on Monday evening. However, the Prime Minister’s Office responded soon after that “there is no change” in the deal.

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After Channel 2 released the report, MK Yousef Jabareen (Joint List) told The Jerusalem Post that the funds that would be transferred to the Arab community through this plan “are an integral part of our right to equality, with the aim of addressing past injustices.”

The extra budget for the sector “is not a privilege, but a right. So we reject any conditions on these budgets and will struggle to make sure the full plan is implemented,” he said.

“Instead of expanding the plan according to our demands, he is threatening to limit its scope. This is a cause for worry about the seriousness of Netanyahu to fully implement the plan.”

Jabareen added that Arabs are upset over the report that Netanyahu is reconsidering the deal reached with Arab leadership last week.

It is unclear whether the conditions Channel 2 reported are actually new, as the original deal did include conditions related to illegal building and national service.

However, Jabareen argued that the report is referencing real changes, which are being considered.

Elkin and Levin are discussing the conditions in the media, he noted.

The government approved the proposal by Netanyahu, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel to promote a comprehensive program of economic and structural development.

The size of the five-year plan is estimated at between NIS 10-15b., and would increase funding for housing, education, employment of Arab women, infrastructure, welfare services and public transport.

Netanyahu said at the time of the budget’s proposal that it “is a significant addition designed to assist the minorities and to reduce gaps,” adding that the deal “strengthens law enforcement among minority populations, with an emphasis on illegal building.”

MK Esawi Frej (Meretz) also criticized Netanyahu following the Channel 2 report, saying, “If the prime minister was a wooden puppet, his nose would be miles long. Every day reveals a new lie.”

The prime minister is bypassing those who formulated the deal and entrusting Elkin and Levin with foiling it, Frej asserted.

As usual, continued Frej, “Netanyahu says something different every day.”

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