Photo by Amos Ben Gershom, GPO
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened a discussion with the participation of Prime Minister’s Office Director General Eli Groner, Joint Arab List Chairman MK Ayman Udah, MK Dr. Ahmed Tibi, MK Jamal Zahalka, MK Masud Ganaim and Arab Local Councils Forum Chairman Mazan Ganaim. Representatives from the Finance and Social Equality ministries also attended the meeting.
Agreement was reached on an outline that includes moving forward – within 30 days – on a multi-year plan on economic integration and reducing gaps by enacting structural changes. Agreement was also reached on one-time budgetary supplements to strengthen Arab sector local councils.
Following are the main points of the understandings that were achieved:
The multi-year plan
* Implementation within approximately one month of a multi-year plan to promote economic integration and a reduction in gaps in Arab society by advancing significant structural changes. In addition an implementation and cooperation mechanism will be set up with the Union of Local Authorities and Arab sector local councils. The various plans will be formulated and implemented by the relevant ministries in full cooperation with Arb local council and Arab society representatives.
One-time budgetary supplements
1. In 2015, support in the current budget for Arab sector local councils will be increased by NIS 150 million. NIS 50 million will be allocated for development budgets for Arab sector local councils.
2. A program for outstanding local councils – NIS 350 million will be allocated over five years to outstanding Arab sector local councils; the goal is to create economic growth engines that will lead to increased revenues. The plan is also designed to encourage organizational change in the local councils by though increased efficiency and filling essential positions.
3. Investing approximately NIS 135 million in advancing plans for informal education in Arab councils including community centers, nature centers and youth movements.
4. Investing approximately NIS 150 million in strengthening personal security in Arab communities by means of – inter alia – building police installations, city-without-violence programs and assigning police personnel.
5. NIS 100 million per annum will be added in 2017 and 2018 to Arab sector local councils’ development budgets.
Prime Minister Netanyahu: "I am the Prime Minister of all citizens of Israel. The assistance plan that we decided on today is a significant rectification and an additional step designed to integrate the Arab citizens of Israel into Israeli society as equals among equals."