Israel’s minister of construction signed a deal last week to build thousands of public housing units for the country’s Arab population.
MK Yoav Galant (Kulanu) agreed to allocate 1.41 billion shekels ($374 million) toward building public housing for Israeli Arabs and to lift restrictions from construction on private land, Ynet reported. The deal, which was reached with the heads of 15 local municipal Arab authorities, is set to facilitate the construction of 30,000 housing units on private and public land.
“Over the next 20 years, the Arab sector will require 200,000 apartments. During the last few weeks, we have made it a point to work side by side with the Arab leadership in a quick, transparent and equality-conscious process, the effects of which will shortly be visible on the ground,” said Galant. “Strengthening the Arab sector is a national interest.”
Noting the Jewish state’s responsibility to its Arab community, Galant stressed that “a country that expects loyalty must create equality....There is a real opportunity here to bring about justice and give hope to the children living here.”
The agreement was the result of negotiations between the Ministries of Construction and Social Justice. The ambitious plan calls for development in more than 50 municipalities, with future budgets of 710 million shekels ($188 million) toward renovating and expanding existing buildings, as well as constructing new sports fields and multipurpose structures.
In a meeting with Arab-Israeli leaders shortly after his reelection last year, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized for remarks he made about Arab turnout during the campaign and reaffirmed his commitment to better integrate Arabs into Israeli society. In his remarks, Netanyahu noted “the tremendous investment in minority communities” made during his tenure as prime minister.
An October 2014 report by economists Robert Cherry and Robert Lerman highlighted some of the efforts undertaken by the Netanyahu government to “[prioritize] economic development in Arab towns.” Among the initiatives they mentioned were the establishment of employment offices and industrial parks in Arab towns. In addition, Cherry and Lerman wrote, “the Israeli government developed a five-year plan for Arab education and established a special unit in the prime minister’s office to promote economic development in the Arab community.”
This is a lightly edited version of the original article published by TheTower.org at http://www.thetower.org/3915oc-israel-allocates-1-4-billion-shekels-to-build-thousands-of-housing-units-in-arab-sector/