Cabinet Approves 30 Billion Shekel Package for Arab Sector

Head of the Ra’am party Mansour Abbas (standing) in the Knesse plenum. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Israeli cabinet approved on Sunday a massive spending bill aimed at bettering the socioeconomic status of the country’s Arab population.

The five-year, 30 billion omnibus ($9.4 billion) will now go to Knesset, where with coalition backing, it is expected to be passed alongside the state budget next month.

The plan includes NIS 9.6 billion (nearly $3 billion) to improve education in Arab cities and towns; NIS 5.2 billion ($1.6 billion) for Bedouin Arabs in the southern Negev desert; NIS 650 million ($202.7 million) to bridge health gaps between Arabs and Jews; NIS 2 billion (some $624 million) to renovate infrastructure, and more.

Passing such a plan was the price agreed to by the coalition to secure support from the Islamist Ra’am party, the first Arab Israeli faction to sit in a government coalition in decades.

Cabinet approval comes in the wake of threats by Ra’am in recent days to boycott the budget vote if the promises were not kept.