The Israeli government approved on Tuesday the allocation of NIS 2 billion from its NIS 30 billion five-year plan for the Arab sector to go toward road and transport infrastructure in Arab localities.
The NIS 30 billion budget project, officially named Taqaddum (تَقَدُّمْ, 'progress' in Arabic), was agreed upon as a requirement from MK Mansour Abbas' Ra'am party as part of coalition talks with Yesh Atid's Yair Lapid and Yamina's Naftali Bennett.
Issues with road infrastructure in and around Arab villages and cities were targeted as a pressing concern in the Knesset's Special Committee on Arab Society Affairs, which is chaired by Abbas. Social Equality Minister Meirav Cohen presented the progress made in executing the plan to the committee.
"We are working daily to fully implement the five-year plan for the Arab sector"Social Equality Minister Meirav Cohen
Two major road infrastructure projects
Cohen highlighted two major projects which are all set to begin by the end of June.
The biggest project will see some NIS 600 million allocated for the construction and renovation of inner-city roads in several Arab localities, with Ayalon Highways hired as a contractor for the project. Major investment will also go toward the construction of intercity roads between Arab localities and cities at the cost of NIS 102 million.
Additionally, NIS 333 million will go to other road infrastructure projects at the local and municipal levels.
In the committee meeting, the social equality minister stressed the importance of improving the socio-economic state of Arab localities across Israel and the Arab sector as a whole.
Arab sector: Work in progress
Several other aspects of the Arab sector plan have already been implemented since the package was approved in the Knesset in October 2021.
NIS 200 million were set aside for "balance grants" for Arab localities and municipalities, adding to the NIS 140 million previously set aside for the project. Housing projects in Arab cities were allocated a NIS 500 million budget and an extra NIS 47 million are set to go to various economic projects in the Arab periphery.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's government also invested in the education of Arab-Israeli youth, especially in their integration into Israel's vibrant hi-tech sector.
A NIS 600 million plan, to be implemented over five years, will see an increase in the number of Arab engineers working in Israeli hi-tech by an estimated 250%.