Lod Mayor Yair Revivo petitioned the High Court of Justice on Thursday demanding that the government's five-year plan for the Arab sector apply to Arabs in mixed cities, and not just in solely Arab towns.
The exclusion of Arabs who live in mixed cities such as Lod, Ramle, Acre and Haifa, and comprise some 20% of Israel's Arab population, amounts to discrimination, Revivo argued.
"The Israeli government decided to discriminate against the Arab population in Israel's mixed cities and deny them the right to improve their economic and social situation," Revivo said to Maariv.
"Despite petitions and requests from different government agencies and from Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, the decision not to include Lod and the other mixed cities such as Acre and Ramle in the plan constitutes a continuation of the current situation, harm to these citizens and a disaster for both the [mixed] cities themselves and [its Arab] residents. I am calling on the High Court to intervene and initiate an immediate discussion," he said.
Revivo's petition called for the High Court to both hold an immediate hearing on the issue and direct the government to halt the allocation of funds to the Arab regional councils and municipalities, which is supposed to be completed 60 days after the law goes into effect.
The plan was approved by the cabinet on October 24. It allocates approximately NIS 30 billion between 2022 and 2026 to advance a series of actions to reduce gaps in Arab society.
These include some NIS 9.4 billion for educational programs; some NIS 2.8 billion for housing; NIS 3 million for transportation; over NIS 1.4 billion towards developing employment opportunities by increasing the number of courses for professions in high demand, with an emphasis on acquiring proficiency in Hebrew; some NIS 615 million in welfare programs; some NIS 600 million in hi-tech, and more.
Lod, and Revivo, were constantly in the headlines during Operation Guardian of the Walls in May, as the city saw some of the heaviest violence and rioting by its Arab population and extremist right-wing Jewish organizations.
The four days of rioting left one Arab and one Jew killed, several people injured from gunshots and stabbings, four synagogues burned, a number of apartments firebombed and destroyed, dozens of cars set alight and numerous windows broken on cars, synagogues, mosques and stores.
Revivo was accused by some of the 28,000-strong Arab population of implementing unequal policies, segregating the two communities and inciting against the Arab population.
However, Revivo hosted Ra'am head Mansour Abbas at Lod's city hall after the latter's visit to one of the burnt synagogues, where the two spoke about the situation in Lod and intercommunal relations between Arab and Jewish residents. Revivo thanked Abbas for the visit and called for his city's Jews and Arabs to restore their coexistence and cooperation.