The Israeli Cabinet on Monday approved Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s 150 million shekel plan to strengthen Arab sector communities and reduce crime.
The money will be earmarked for building and expanding five new and existing police stations, two fire stations and multi-purpose buildings for community services in Arab communities, and establish a special Israel Police unit dedicated to the fight against crime in the Arab sector, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.
The decision also determines that the Public Security Ministry and the Israel Police will advance an organized campaign to seize illegal weaponry in Arab sector communities. An inter-ministerial team will also be formed to deal with the bringing in of illegal weaponry to Israeli territory.
The plan also includes an approximately NIS 1 million for an information campaign against violence in Arab society. A professional team will work to advance plans to deal with family violence that has become ingrained in Arab sector communities by giving the communities the flexibility to adapt the plans to the special needs of Arab society.
“This is major news for Arab society in Israel,” said Netanyahu on passage of the measure. “I thank the Cabinet ministers who approved the proposal, the goal of which is to deal with crime in the Arab sector and strengthen the personal sense of security of the residents of the Arab communities. I would like to thank all of the government ministers and ministries that took part in the work process in formulating the plan, and Prime Minister’s Office Acting Director General Tzachi Braverman.”
The initial reception from some Arab leaders was not a warm one.
Arab lawmakers had been hoping for a mult-billion shekel package to fight rampaging crime in their towns. Previously, Netanyahu only promised NIS 100 million, combined with a pledge to follow up with a larger plan at a later date, although another NIS 50 million was later budgeted.
“Netanyahu is offering us a Band-Aid,” Joint List chair Ayman Odeh said when the plan was revealed in early February, adding: “It’s impossible to solve a decade of neglect with NIS 100 million.”
“The government plan authorized by Netanyahu is a bad plan, which won’t solve anything regarding crime and violence in Arab society. Its only purpose is to gain votes,” charged MK Sami Abou Shehadeh, who leads the Palestinian nationalist Balad faction in the Joint List, according to The Times of Israel.