New Government Investing Heavily in Israel’s Arab Sector

With an Arab party finally sitting in the government, the Arab sector has scored big in terms of budget allocations

By Edy Cohen | | Topics: Israeli Arabs
The decision of Ra'am party leader Mansour Abbas to join the current government has been a financial windfall for the Arab sector. Photo: Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90

As a follow-up to ”Israel Has a State Budget,” here is a look at what Israel’s 2022 state budget has designated for the Arab sector, which according to the coalition agreement signed between the Islamist party Ra’am and the Bennett-Lapid government is supposed to receive special assistance.

In fact, nearly NIS 32 billion ($10.3 billion) has been allotted to the Arab sector, of which, NIS 2.5 billion ($800 million) is to be used to combat crime, which has been out of control for years. The rest, or nearly NIS 30 billion, is for construction, education, infrastructure, and for promoting equality between men and women in sports and in culture. The program’s name is “A Five-Year Plan for Socio-Economic Development and to Fight Crime in the Arab Sector.”

 

Where exactly are the funds going?

Here is the list of the funds received:

  • NIS 65 million ($20.9 million) – To encourage the local population to use new technologies for government services making it easier for the Arab citizen to access government services and increase digital literacy.
  • NIS 85 million ($27.4 million) – For the construction of 8 fire stations and the recruitment of 140 firefighters from the Arab sector.
  • NIS 140 million ($45 million) – To be immediately transferred to local Arab municipalities.
  • NIS 200 million ($64.4 million) – To increase the budgets of Arab local authorities.
  • NIS 200 million ($64.6 million) – To be invested in Arab youth between the ages of 18 and 24.
  • NIS 300 million ($96.6 million) – For Arabs on the coastal plain and for Arab cities located there.
  • NIS 530 million ($170.6 million) – For science and technology and for hi-tech and the establishment of research centers.
  • NIS 550 million ($177 million) – To improve the environment and for waste removal and dealing with fires.
  • NIS 615 million ($198 million) – For social welfare and additional social workers.
  • NIS 650 million ($209.3 million) -To support existing health centers and to establish new clinics.
  • NIS 700 million ($225.4 million) -To support sports and athletics, and to build sports facilities.
  • NIS 1.2 billion ($390 million) – Construction and residential planning.
  • NIS 1.4 billion ($450 million) – To create a program for improving employment for both men and women.
  • NIS 1.4 billion ($450 million) – For Bedouin villages in the north [it’s not clear what they’re going to do with it.]
  • NIS 2 billion ($640 million) – To improve infrastructure and streets, and to build a new transportation systems.
  • NIS 3 billion ($970 million) – for Arab, Druze and Circassian communities.
  • NIS 5.2 billion ($1.67 billion) – Goes to recognized and unrecognized cities and villages in the Negev.
  • NIS 9.6 billion ($3.09 billion) – To improve study curricula in the Arab sector and to build 4,000 new classrooms.

Such a large allocation for the Arab sector is most likely aimed at righting the wrongs and discrimination of the past and to show that the new government is trying to turn over a new leaf in relation to Israel’s Arab population. The ultra-Orthodox Jewish sector, however, did not receive any additions to their budget. On the contrary, there were many cuts in this sector’s allocations.

Israeli Arabs are citizens of the state and are clearly entitled to investments by the state into their communities. However, some to the right of the political spectrum wonder if this inflated budget will accomplish its goal. They have organized an oversight group to audit where these funds will actually be allocated and promise to report if any of the monies find their way to Gaza, or are used to buy weapons or engage in illegal construction.

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