The Israeli government unanimously approved a long term social-economic plan of action for the Arab-Israeli sector in Israel on the night of Wednesday, December 30.
The proposal, titled “The Plan for the Economic Development and Inclusion of Arab Society” was sponsored by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (of Kulanu), and Minister for Social Equality and Minorities Gila Gamliel (of the Likud).
The plan includes an increased budget allocation for various projects and benefits designated specifically for Arab minority groups in Israel in the fields of education, transportation, infrastructure, employment, industry, commerce, and health.
“This is a substantial increase in national funds meant to assist minority groups and to close social gaps in the Arab sector,” said PM Netanyahu.
The plan was formulated and constructed over the past two years by a collaborative team of experts from the Prime Minister’s Office, the Finance Ministry, the Department of Regional and Social Equality as well as representatives from Arab local and municipal authorities and civilian NGOs.
“When put into effect and if implemented well, this will truly be an unprecedented plan by the Israeli government,” said Arab-Israeli Member of Knesset Ayman Odeh (of the Joint Arab List party).
According to the Ministry of the Interior, the Arab-Israeli minority sector, including Bedouin, Druze and Circassian communities, constitute about 20% of the Israeli population.
The adopted plan will enact a cross-departmental budget increase of up to 25% for each relevant ministry and department to be directed towards these communities. According to Minister Gila Gamliel, the funds allocated to these groups thus truly represent their size of the population for the first time.
The overall national expenditure approved by the government for this plan is set at close to four billion U.S. dollars.
“This is great news for the Arab public in Israel and all that’s left to do is to wait for these funds to arrive at their destinations,” said Arab-Israeli MK Zohair Bahalul (of Labor).
Implementation of the plan is expected to improve the economic development of Arab-Israeli minority communities while increasing the employment rate of that sector, improving educational performance, increasing the feeling of personal and social security, and strengthening the Arab local authorities.
“This is an important and historical step on the road to closing social gaps and advancing social equality in Israel,” said Minister Gamliel. “The plan adopted by the government today deals with every single aspect in the lives of Arabs in Israel.”