(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, this evening (Thursday), 21 February 2008, attended the founding conference of the Minorities Sector Economic Development Authority’s Advisory Council, which was also attended by senior Israeli economic and community leaders – Arab, Druze, Bedouin and Jewish.

The Authority was established by the Government in order to promote investment in the minorities sector, encourage employment and provide Government assistance to the minorities sector in the commercial field. The Authority will operate within the Prime Minister’s Office and is part of the Government’s multi-year socio-economic agenda, which – inter alia – deals with centers of poverty in Israel, including in the minorities sector.

Prime Minister Olmert called for partnership between the various sectors: "We cannot ignore the fact that we live in a society composed of 20% non-Jews, who have suffered from a lack of equality in various fields over the years. I intend to put on the agenda practical proposals to tackle these problems and lead to a reduction in the gaps between the various population groups in Israel.

The goal is to create a mechanism to combine investments and involvement in all sectors, especially the business sector. The Prime Minister’s Conference on the Minorities Sector will be held in a few months. Under its aegis, joint Government-minorities sector teams will meet in order to present the Government plans that have been prepared in cooperation and consultation with experts in various policy fields, including economics, education and local affairs."