The Mossawa Center and FES hold Knesset conference on the state budget - مركز مساواة لحقوق المواطنين العرب في اسرائيل

The Mossawa Center and FES hold Knesset conference on the state budget

On Tuesday, July 25, 2017, the  Mossawa Center, in cooperation with the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, held a conference in the Knesset on the 2016 state budget. Hosted by MKs Ahmad Tibi and Jamal Zahalqa, the conference dealt with the state budget, its implications for the Arab community, and Resolution 922.  


Dr. Ahmad Tibi stressed the importance of following-up on the implementation of Resolution 922, noting that the government had only transferred a small portion of the budget set out in the economic plan for the socio-economic development of the Arab sector. He specifically called  for the transfer of promised state funds to Arab towns and localities, highlighting the concerns of many heads of local councils present at the conference.


MK Zahalqa emphasized that, although Resolution 922 is a step in the right direction, it does not adequately address the socio-economic disparities between the Arab community and the rest of the population. Later on in the conference, MK Youssef Jabareen expressed a similar sentiment, noting that, although the Arab community constitutes twenty percent of the population, the state must allocate more than twenty percent of its funds to the Arab community in order to remedy decades of discriminatory budgetary allocations. As MK Haneen  Zoabi pointed out, however, not a single economic plan has granted the Arab community its rightful, proportionate funding of at least twenty percent.


Jafar Farah, the director of the Mossawa Center, called on the Ministry of Education to allocate the funds outlined in Resolution 922. The Minister of Education, Naftali Bennet, has refused to implement the budget outlined in Resolution 922, denying Arab students NIS 1.4 billion of promised funding. Noting that Resolution 922 does not account for social welfare, and only minimally addresses the health care needs of the Arab community, Farah also called on the relevant ministries to address health and poverty in the Arab sector. Finally, he noted that, effectively, both the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Tourism only serve the Jewish community, ignoring  the needs of the Arab community, despite its potential in both agriculture and tourism.


Raed Abu Al-Qiyan, an activist from Umm al-Hiran, noted that Resolution 922 fails to even so much as mention the Bedouin Arab community in the Naqab (Negev) Desert, despite its status as the most impoverished community in Israel.  


Representatives from each ministry presented their plans for 2017-2018, as well as reports on their implementation of the 2016 budget and Resolution 922. However, in most cases, they failed to address the concerns of the Arab MKs, local councilors, and civil society representatives.


Other speakers included, MKs Osama Saadi, Jumaa al-Zabarqa, and Masoud Ghanayem; Ayman Saif, the Economic Development Authority in the Prime Minister’s Office; Edgar Degwar, the head of the Fassuta local council; and Bayan Wedad, a representative from the Ministry of Finance.


For more information on the state budget, Resolution 922, and their implications for Arab citizens in Israel, please see the Mossawa Center’s analysis and outline of the state budget. 


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