(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Tuesday, 13 February 2007, attended a special event at the Knesset in honor of Israel’s Druze and Circassian  communities. Knesset Speaker and Acting President Dalia Itzik, Knesset Deputy Speaker Majali Wahabe, Druze spiritual leader Sheikh Muafakh Tarif also attended the event. A special Knesset lobby for the integration of the Druze and Circassian communities into Israeli society was established.

Prime Minister Olmert said: “The Druze and Circassian communities want to see actual deeds. To this end, my predecessor initiated a decision to allocate NIS 447 million to develop infrastructures and raise the quality of life of the Druze and Circassian communities in the State of Israel. At the end of 2006, it was also decided to market 773 housing units to the Druze sector and we are working to increase this number. Similarly, we will work to improve the absorption of Druze and Circassians in the government and public sectors. Permit me to say with all due caution and modesty – this government will not talk, it will take action so that the reality of life for the Druze and Circassian communities reflects their activity and their dedication on behalf of the State of Israel, and so that they will know that they are an inseparable part of us.”

Prime Minister Olmert congratulated the officers and soldiers of the IDF Druze battalion, which recently received a special Ground Forces Command commendation, and praised the battalion’s “exemplary fighting spirit.”