Today over 30 Arab and Jewish organizations called on all Knesset members to impose a fair budget for Arab Citizens in Israel.
The demands of the organizations were published in Haaretz newspaper and sent out to all Knesset members and ministries. It included requisitions of 3.5 billion NIS for the Arab Community to be included in 2006 budget.
The Mossawa Center for the Rights of Arab Citizens prepared the stipulations of this request, which were also included in a report presented to the Knesset describing the social, financial, and economic realities of the Arab community. Written by Mossawa Center’s economist, Amin Fares, the report emphasizes the urgent needs of the Arab citizens in the major fields of housing and development, as well as equal rights in the state of Israel. This report demands the additional allocation of 1,835,000,000 NIS in 2006 for Arab municipalities. This money, according to Fares, is required to implement community development strategies and alleviate the financial crises of these communities. The Center claims that the 2006 budget fails to eliminate the disparate socio-economic gap within the Arab community through a lack of necessary funding. The Center further adds that this opportunity should not be missed to disrupt the Knesset’s perpetual cycle of historical injustice.
The report also highlights unfulfilled budgetary promises to Arab citizens, as well as important information about Arab community needs in various areas: housing, employment, industrial development, unfinished infrastructure plans, connecting houses for sewage system access, new neighborhood construction, old neighborhood renovation and restoration, egalitarian education opportunities, saving the social welfare system, encouraging the employment of women, and fighting child poverty. These objectives can be met with an additional 3.5 billion shekels.
The Center emphasizes that parties with their own partisan social agendas will be scrutinized, and equitable funding allocation will be expected. Mossawa Center suggests that the Knesset secure investments that will minimize unemployment and poverty; the most serious hazard from which the Arab population is suffering.
The Mossawa Center’s report declares: “Saving the Arab society from poverty and unemployment requires investing in education, professional and industrial development, the approval of infrastructure plans, investing in child subsidies in order to get them out of the poverty circle, and giving all Arabs a greater chance for a decent education.” Fares explains that “investments to eliminate inequality, unemployment among women and youth, and child poverty, are factors for economic growth in Israel, particularly within Arab society.”
The Israeli government and the new Knesset are to vote within the next few days on the 2006 budget.
The Mossawa Center acknowledges that the Knesset and the government are discussing and approving the budget proposal of 2006; however, the finance ministry is meanwhile preparing the budget proposal of 2007 The Center asserts that the government should take the demands of their report into consideration.
Mossawa, The Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens in Israel, was established in October of 1997 as a Non Governmental Organization. Mossawa works to promote equality for Arab Palestinians within the borders of Israel. Mossawa utilizes advocacy methods to change the social and political status of Arab/Palestinians in Israel in an attempt to gain minority recognition and rights, without sacrificing their national and cultural rights as Palestinians. Mossawa cooperates with other NGO’s, local councils, elected representatives of society, international and local human rights organizations, and embassies in an effort to achieve our set goals and establish a solid networking arena. Mossawa’s team and board are involved in every aspect of programming, including advocacy, analysis, outreach, public knowledge, social & political justice and change — including the improvement of women’s status in society. The activities that Mossawa implements focus on the empowerment of persons and organizations that cooperate to change the existing Palestinian situation.