PM promises major investment in Druze, Circassian towns

PM promises major investment in Druze, Circassian towns

Move comes after Likud MK calls for affirmative action for minorities that serve state

Lazar Berman is a former breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Sheikh Muwaffak Tarīf, spiritual leader of the Druze community in Israel, in Jerusalem on November 26, 2014. (Photo credit: Kobi Gideon / GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Sheikh Muwaffak Tarīf, spiritual leader of the Druze community in Israel, in Jerusalem on November 26, 2014. (Photo credit: Kobi Gideon / GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will submit a plan for government approval in the next month calling for “significant investment” in Druze and Circassian communities, the prime minister announced on his Facebook page Saturday.

The proposal will see more funds dedicated to education, infrastructure, and employment, Netanyahu said, “in order to close the gaps and advance the towns.”

The announcement was made days after Netanyahu met with Druze community leaders last Wednesday and expressed condolences on the recent deaths of two Druze police officers in terror attacks.

On Thursday, Likud MK Danny Danon said he was seeking to have an addendum added on to the controversial “Jewish state” bill calling for affirmative action for minority communities who take active part in defending the state.

The amendment would affect the country’s Druze and Circassian communities, which take part in mandatory military service.

Israel’s 130,000 Druze live on the Carmel Range, and in the Galilee and Golan Heights, and have integrated into the upper reaches of the military and political establishment.

There are around 4,000 Israeli Circassians, a Caucasian Muslim people that was settled in the Galilee by the Ottomans in the late 19th century.

Netanyahu on Wednesday evening offered his condolences on the deaths of Police Master Sergeant Zidan Saif, who was killed in the terror attack on a Jerusalem synagogue November 18, and of Border Police Chief Inspector Jedan Assad, killed earlier this month when a Palestinian terrorist drove his car into a crowd of people at a light rail station in Jerusalem.

“You are our very flesh. You are an organic part of Israeli society. Your heroic policemen and soldiers have fallen in order to defend the state and all its citizens, but we will defend your rights and your security,” Netanyahu told the Druze leaders.

“There is a deep emotional commitment here that found expression in the crowds who came to the funeral. This emotionally underscored what Israeli citizens feel and what I feel,” he said.

“This is our fight against radical Islam,” he added.

Netanyahu’s remarks came amid widespread international and local criticism over the controversial “Jewish law” bill which seeks to enshrine Israel’s status as a Jewish state with equal rights for all the country’s citizens. The bill, which currently has several versions, has been blasted for elevating Israel’s ‘Jewishness’ over democracy in some of the drafts. Opponents argue that it alienates the country’s non-Jewish citizens, including the Druze and Arab communities.

The prime minister has remained adamant about pushing the bill forward.

JTA and Times of Israel staff contributed to this report. 


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