The amount that the new Israeli government is committed to investing directly in the Arab sector amounts to NIS 35 billion, with a readiness to expand investment in infrastructures in the future. The main achievement of Ra'am leader MK Mansour Abbas in the talks with the heads of the coalition Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett has been to agree a budget of NIS 30 billion for the five-year plan for developing Israel's Arab sector - double the budget previously allocated to the plan.
According to the demands of Abbas, which have not yet been finally agreed, the five year plan will incorporate three separate plans for the general Arab, Bedouin and Druze sectors. The previous five-year plan for the Arab sector had a budget of NIS 11 billion while the Bedouin and Druze plans together had a budget allocation of NIS 3 billion. The new NIS 30 billion plan until 2026 will also be a commitment for the government after the one which will be sworn in next week.
The five year plan will be formed by the Authority for the Development of Arab Society together with the budget department of the Ministry of Finance in consultation with the Knesset Committee for Arab Affairs, on which Abbas himself will likely sit. The budget will include funding for health, welfare, employment, education, higher education, planning housing and neighborhoods, strengthening local authorities, innovation and high-tech, encouraging employment and entrepreneurship, tourism and water and sewage infrastructures.
Abbas came to the coalition talks after consulting with Arab mayors and council heads, economic researchers and senior Ministry of Finance and government officials.
Housing will be one of the most pressing problems addressed by the new budget with the need for accelerated construction of apartment buildings and the rezoning of agricultural land. If district planning and building committees fail to push through plans fast enough then the power to approve them will be shifted to the National Planning and Building Commission. The coalition agreement talks about approval of tens of thousands of new homes annually.
Another major problem plaguing Israeli Arab society is the availability of credit with - a factor allowing criminal organizations to flourish in Arab society by providing loans. Among the solutions being discussed are government guarantees for credit.
The coalition agreement will also include huge government investment in transport infrastructures. In the past Netivei Ayalon proposed a NIS 20 billion plan for closing the enormous gaps between Jewish and Arab towns. The agreement talks about adopting this plan in principle but in practice only allocating NIS 2 billion over the next two years for improving the transport infrastructure in the Arab sector.
In addition, the coalition agreement will allocate NIS 2.5 billion for combatting crime and violence in Israeli Arab society.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on June 10, 2021
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