Women walking in the mixed Arab-Jewish city Lod 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Welfare Minister Meir Cohen appointed on Sunday a consultant for welfare issue
in the Arab sector who will “work intensively with the Arab local authorities in
promoting social welfare issues including programs dealing with poverty. The
consultant, Dunia Baransi, a mother of four who resides in Taybeh, is an
educator, former professor and education director at a private
The move came after Cohen had pledged to appointing an Arab
sector consultant back in March as he took over the Ministry and replaced Moshe
According to data provided by the Ministry on welfare issue in
the Arab sector, the poverty rate among Israeli Arabs is the highest in the
country and stands at some 53.5% , which is the equivalent of about 171,000
families, compared with only 19.9% among the Jewish population.
figures presented, which were the result of a study conducted Cohen himself in
cooperation with the National Insurance Institute recently, also revealed that
more than half of the total Arab population - about 882,000 families - live
below the poverty line, compared to only 24.8% of the Jewish
“These are severe numbers that we cannot tolerate,” Cohen
stated, “In order to fight the poverty rate in Israel, we need to act through
specific programs in the most disadvantaged populations, including the Arab
community in Israel.”
The minister also added that a clear priority will
be given to Arabs residing in the periphery, including Arab
According to the ministry, Baransi has already begun her work
and is mapping welfare issues in Arab municipalities and establishing contact
with welfare departments.
Baransi is scheduled to meet with Arab mayors
next month in order to formulate, with the Ministry, a plan for the advancement
of social issues in the sector.