Jewish and Arab activists promoting equality in Israel have called for a government association to preserve neglected Muslim holy sites and the establishment of an official day to honor the Arabic language and culture in Israel. The calls were among those made during last week's 4th annual Jaffa "Call to Action" Convention initiated and organized by the Jerusalem-based Citizens' Accord Forum between Jews and Arabs in Israel. Changes are urgently needed to bridge gaps and create true equality and coexistence in Israel, panelists said. "What we need first and foremost is mutual respect, respect of the rights of the Arab Palestinian population that lives in its homeland, which doesn't have a lot... but it's important to know also, that it doesn't have anywhere to go," MK Hanna Swaid (Hadash), co-chair of the Knesset Committee on Jewish-Arab Relations, told participants. "Transfer - for those who still think about it - is not a solution." Activists suggested establishing a government association in partnership with the Hebrew University's Truman Institute to protect and preserve neglected Muslim holy sites and cemeteries in Israel. A similar call was made last year at the 2007 Jaffa Convention, and a bill was proposed in June to establish a government authority for the development of Muslim holy places. Activists also called for establishing an official day to honor the Arabic language and culture in Israel, a day in which employees would be able to take off if they desire. "There are state holidays in which the state marks important and deserving holidays beyond national holidays, like the Sigd festival of the Ethiopians, or Jerusalem Day, but for 20 percent of the residents of the state there is no unique day for them that respects their culture, or our culture on the Jewish side," said Udi Cohen, co-director of the Citizens Accord Forum. Regarding the issue of Arab education, an independent administration within the Education Ministry is needed to help narrow the widening gaps between Arab and Jewish children in Israel, said Melchior, co-chair of the Knesset Committee on Jewish-Arab relations and honorary co-chair of the conference. "Arab education in Israel is simply in collapse, very disadvantaged in the state of Israel," he told The Jerusalem Post before the start of the conference. "The investment in a Jewish child - excluding teachers' income - is six times that of an Arab child," according to the Central Bureau of Statistics. "It's incomprehensible," Melchior said.