A committee was established by the cabinet Sunday to deal with issues relating to the Arab community — particularly the mounting epidemic of violent crime — but it will include 18 Jewish ministers, including four from the far-right Otzma Yehudit and Religious Zionism parties, and only one Arab official.
The Ministerial Committee for Issues in the Arab Community, headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, will include ministers Itamar Ben Gvir, Bezalel Smotrich, Orit Strock and Yitzhak Wasserlauf.
The committee’s only Arab member will be Hassan Tawafra, the Director General at the Authority for the Economic Development of the Arab Minority in the Social Equality Ministry.
During the previous government headed by Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid, two Arab ministers served on the same committee — Esawi Frej of Meretz and Hamad Amar of Yisrael Beytenu. The current coalition has no Arab ministers.
The committee is tasked with advancing policies regarding the Arab community and is expected to push forward the government’s program for fighting the surging crime wave in Arab towns and cities.
According to the Abraham Initiatives, an anti-violence monitoring group, at least 103 Arabs have been killed in violent circumstances since the start of the year, a major leap from the 44 slayings at this point in 2022.
Police, politicians and community leaders have struggled over the past several years to rein in criminal activity, which has driven spiking violence.
Many Arab community leaders blame authorities and the police, who they say have failed to crack down on powerful criminal organizations and largely ignore the violence, which includes family feuds, mafia turf wars and violence against women. The communities have also suffered from years of neglect by state authorities.