On Monday, Jan. 10, Mossawa Center General Director Jafar Farah and Executive Director Suha Salman Mousa met with the Minister of Environmental Protection Tamar Zandberg and other representatives of the ministry to discuss the budgets allocated for the Palestinian Arab community and the policies that the ministry plans to implement in the coming years. The meeting was attended by representatives from the Office of the Director-General of the Ministry, the Ministry’s Director for the Northern District, the Operational Diversity Officer, the Ministry's Professional Adviser, and more.
Among the demands made by the Mossawa Center:
• to issue licenses for the fishermen's village in Jisr Az-Zarqa.
• to raise the percentage of Palestinian Arab employees in the ministry to at least 20%.
• to increase the size of budgets allocated to environmental organizations active in Palestinian Arab society.
The Mossawa Center raised the issue of demolition orders issued against Hamama Jarban and the Ali family in the fishermen’s village of Jisr al-Zarqa, and requested the cancellation of the demolition orders by the Nature and Parks Authority, which works with the Ministry of Environment. The Mossawa Center requested the approval of the structural map for the fishermen's village, and the recognition of the property rights of the fishermen. The "Al-Mizan" Association and Jisr Az-Zarqa’s local council will accompany the Ministry in the development and implementation of the plan and agreement. It was agreed to follow up on the issues raised with the Director of the Nature and Parks Authority and the prosecution this week to prevent the court's approval for the demolition order.
Regarding the employment of Palestinian Arabs in the ministry's offices, the Mossawa Center considers the current rate, which stands at less than 7%, a violation of the law on appropriate representation of Palestinian Arabs in government offices and government decisions. The Mossawa Center asked the Operational Diversity Officer, Tali Rosenfeld, to expand efforts to accommodate Palestinian Arab employees in the central administration of the ministry and its branches.
The Mossawa Center raised the issue of allocating budgets to environmental units in local authorities and organizations operating in the Palestinian Arab community. Mossawa Center demanded that budgets be allocated to close the gaps between the Palestinian Arab community and the rest of the country in this area, as well as equal funding in the regular allocated by the Ministry. Moreover, it highlighted that the recently published criteria for environmental units to receive support must be changed to adequately address issues in the Palestinian Arab Community.
Minister Zandberg emphasized her intention fo allocate NIS 550 million ($175m) over the next five years to the Palestinian Arab Community. The Mossawa Center warned that there are no clear spending clauses for the budgets allocated by the government so far, making such promises practically meaningless.
The ministry will hold a meeting for the steering committee for environmental issues on Thursday this week, which will be attended by representatives of the National Committee of the Heads of Arab Local Authorities, environmental units, and the ministry's staff and the director of the Northern District in the Ministry of Environment.
Additionally, the Mossawa Center raised the issue of extending the racist Citizenship Law to which the Minister responded by pledging that that Meretz would not support the bill's proposal during a vote on it in the Knesset.