Israeli Arabs to meet with PM, present NIS 5.5 billion-development plan

Israeli Arab NGO head behind plan tell ‘Post’: If an adequate amount is not offered, protests would begin on September first.

An Arab museum of contemporary art opens in Sakhnin (photo credit: PR)
An Arab museum of contemporary art opens in Sakhnin
(photo credit: PR)
The government should allocate NIS 5.5 billion to develop Arab communities for 2015-16, a delegation of the National Committee of Arab Heads of Municipal Authorities is going to tell the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday.
Jafar Farah, the director of Haifa’s Mossawa Center – The Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens in Israel – told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that a multi-year economic plan drawn up with the assistance of his organization will be presented at the meeting with the prime minister.
The meeting of Arab municipality heads with the prime minister, which is to include the mayors of Sakhnin, Nazareth and Kafr Kasim, will be their first since March’s national election, Farah said.
The NGO head reiterated what he told the Post last month, that if their demands are not met, protests will be held to apply pressure on the government. Farah added that if an adequate amount is not offered, protests will begin on September 1.
Farah also said that money that was due to go to Arab communities from the 2014 state budget has been “stuck” in the Finance Ministry.
He pointed out that these funds were meant to improve transportation, including roads and public transit.
The plan produced by the Mossawa Center was already sent to the prime minister on July 15 and was presented in a meeting with Senior Citizens Minister Gila Gamliel last week, continued Farah.
Asked what expectations the Arab leaders have for Monday’s meeting with Netanyahu, Farah responded that he “is not optimistic, but the local councils cannot continue with the current situation.”
The Mossawa Center in cooperation with the National Committee of Arab Heads of Municipal Authorities as well as Arab MKs created a team to deal with economic issues in the Arab sector.
Ghazal Abu Raya, the spokesman of the Sakhnin Municipality and the director of the northern branch of the Hashomer Hatza’ir movement’s Givat Haviva educational institute, which is located in the Lower Galilee city, told the Post, “We welcome the meeting with the prime minister and the representatives of the Arab public."
“We all hope that something productive will come out of it,” he said. “Solving the problems of the Arab sector is an interest not only for Arabs, but also of interest of the state.”
Abu Raya emphasized that there are large gaps in the standard of living not only between the Arab and Jewish populations, but also within the Jewish population itself.
Specifically, he mentioned the severe housing crisis in the Arab sector, saying that in Sakhnin and elsewhere, Arab youths are not getting married because they cannot afford homes.