The government is set to approve funding for east Jerusalem Arab projects after Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich temporarily froze the allocated funds.
Despite Smotrich’s insistence on not releasing the funds, he ultimately was able to come to an agreement that includes a committee to oversee the transfer of the funds – which is set to be announced in Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting.
According to the plan, the committee will be composed of members from the Finance Ministry, Jerusalem Ministry, and the Jerusalem Municipality.
Smotrich drew criticism from both the opposition and the coalition when he announced two weeks ago he would withhold NIS 2.5 billion geared towards the Arab sector, citing both national security concerns and not being obligated to distribute it.
The funding included NIS 200 million for education in the Arab sector, a move that caused major backlash, with Arab towns threatening to strike prior to the opening of the school year in September.
Within the coalition, fellow cabinet ministers publicly decried the decision, including Intelligence Minister Gila Gamliel, Diaspora Affairs and Combatting Antisemitism Minister and Social Equality Minister Amichai Chikli, and Interior Minister Moshe Arbel.
Netanyahu vows Israeli Arabs would see their funding
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also released a statement promising that the frozen funds would end up in the Arab sector.
The committee is meant to ease Smotrich’s fear that the money is not being properly allocated and instead end up contributing to street crime in the Arab sector, which has reached record highs this year, and terrorism.
The goals of the plan, as Smotrich had pushed for, are to put an emphasis on workplace integration, as well as improving Hebrew-language knowledge, an issue that has plagued the Arab sector.