Israel, Jewish Agency Focus on Helping Local Arabs

Jewish Agency, Israeli government launch new initiatives aimed at bolstering Israeli Arab and Palestinian societies

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At its triennial gathering in Tel Aviv last month, the board of the Jewish Agency was told that the organization would be increasingly focused on aiding the local Arab population in the coming years.

In fact, that mission has already begun. Whereas the Jewish Agency was historically focused solely on the Jewish community, today it employs 75 Druze and Arabs and has poured around $2.5 million into their respective communities in recent years.

Agency chairman Natan Sharansky told the gathering that “as a Zionist I believe that this is important for the future of our democracy.”

At the same time, Israeli Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh announced the appointment of a new commander for the Northern District who will be focused on mass recruitment of Arab Muslim officers.

“The police has been deepening cooperation with the Arab population by establishing police stations in Arab towns, and conducting massive recruitment effort of officers from the Muslim sector,” Alsheikh said.

Israel has also been proposing increased economic cooperation with the Palestinian Authority, as confirmed by Palestinian Minister of Finance Shukri Bishara in remarks to the Bethlehem-based Maan news agency.

Bishara met late last month with Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon. Israel’s Channel 10 reported that the two discussed a package that would see greater integration in the construction, medical, and high-tech sectors, as well as a range of study and internship opportunities for young Palestinians.

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