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September 7, 2015 7:35 am

Agreement Reached Between Netanyahu and Arab MKs on Integration Plan for Israeli Arabs

avatar by Jonathan Benedek / Tazpit News Agency

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Joint Arab List leader MK Ayman Odeh. Photo: Facebook.

Joint Arab List leader MK Ayman Odeh. Photo: Facebook.

Prime Minister Netanyahu convened a meeting last week aimed at finding solutions to help integrate and improve the Arab-Israeli sector.

Attendees included Joint Arab List leader MK Ayman Odeh, MK Dr. Ahmad Tibi, MK Jamal Zahalka, MK Masud Ghnaim, and Arab Local Councils Forum Chairman Mazan Ganaim.

An agreement was reached at the meeting that an additional NIS 900 million of budgetary supplements would be given to local Arab councils. A multi-year structural plan for the economic and societal integration of Arab Israelis was agreed upon as well, which will include the implementation of a cooperation mechanism with the Union of Local Authorities and Arab sector local councils.

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“I am the Prime Minister of all citizens of Israel,” Netanyahu said in a statement. “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.”

Among the NIS 900 million in budgetary supplements, there will be an increase this year of NIS 150 million for the current budget of Arab sector local councils. NIS 100 million will be added to their developmental budgets in both 2017 and 2018.

Additionally, NIS 135 million will be provided for the development of informal education programs in Arab councils, as well as community centers, nature centers, and youth movements. There will also be a supplement of NIS 150 million for the advancement of personal security provided by police as well as for the reduction of crime.

Meanwhile, opposition MK Avigdor Lieberman strongly criticized Netanyahu for reaching the agreement with the Arab members of Knesset. “Netanyahu’s decision to give Ayman Odeh and his anti-Zionist partners an accomplishment in the form of an announcement after a meeting with them to transfer NIS 900 million to the Arab municipalities is a shot in the foot of the Zionist state,” argued Lieberman.“Rather than strengthening the moderate elements among Israeli Arabs, the prime minister reinforces the most extreme who are a fifth column in Israel’s Knesset.”

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