Ra’am party chief Mansour Abbas formally presents a five-year NIS 29.5 billion ($9.13 billion) economic plan to fix persistent gaps between Arab Israelis and their Jewish counterparts at a Knesset committee hearing.
A previous five-year plan enacted in 2016 had earmarked NIS 10.7 billion ($3.3 billion) for Arab Israelis. However, only 62 percent of the funds were distributed.
“Sure, this is an unprecedentedly large amount for Israel to invest [in the Arab community]. But the gaps are so large that we will have to do more once the plan is over,” Social Equality Minister Meirav Cohen tells the Arab Affairs committee.
The budget includes billions of planned investment in fields excluded from previous financial packages, including health, informal education and high-tech, says Hassan Tawafreh, who directs an office responsible for encouraging economic growth among Arab Israelis.
The plan will also allocate funding for mixed cities in order to reach the minority of Arab Israelis who live there, officials say. Many of Israel’s mixed cities saw intense interethnic violence during the May war between Israel and Gaza terror groups.
“This is a serious advance when compared with the earlier programs,” says Alaa Ghantous, who advises Arab mayors on economic policy. He adds that collaboration between Arab mayors and government officials has improved significantly over the past few months.