During the period of the Barak government (1999-2000), the Ministerial Committee for Arab Sector Affairs in Israel, headed by Minister Matan Vilnai, addressed the issue of budget requirements for the Arab sector and decided to allocate NIS 4 billion to its advancement over a period of four years.
In fact, only NIS 2.7 billion were allocated for those four years. This is a very minor addition when one considers that in any case half a billion NIS per annum had been allocated to the Arab sector in previous years, making the nominal allocation no more than NIS 175 million per annum, and the actual one even less (Shamir).
2. Local Authorities
The Ministerial Committee on the Non-Jewish Sector, in its resolutions of August 19th, 2003, referred to the issue of closing gaps in municipal services. It was decided to “charge the following factors (as specified in the resolution) via the National Security Council, within six months, with the submission of plans, including: a breakdown of entities responsible for execution, a mechanism for execution, a budget and a schedule for the handling of the principal problems of the Arab sector.” The aim of the resolution, as stated therein, was, inter alia, to consolidate Arab local authorities, with the intention of examining chronic problems that compromise their functioning and removing obstacles that stand in the way of realizing the solutions formulated. The resolution determined that recommendations should be submitted for ways to remove such obstacles. And what was actually done to implement this resolution? In the Lapid Commission report, which was published 10 months later, three words refer to the execution of this resolution, namely: “Not yet executed.”
When Ofir Pines took up his position as new Minister of Internal Affairs, he declared his intention to take action to close the gap, including by means of affirmative action, and indeed a few steps were taken: an Arab Director General was appointed; the village of Ein Khud was recognized; Arab towns and villages were to receive budgets of up to 35%, and 43% of the balancing grants would be directed to those towns and villages. This does represent progress, but still falls well short of solving the underlying problem (Shamir).
3. Master and Outline Plans
The Ministerial Committee on the Non-Jewish Sector determined that the Ministry of Internal Affairs would complete the master and outline plans for the Arab sector before the end of 2005, and would enable residential building (with a focus on high density building) and development.
The Lapid Commission report stated that 73 Arab towns and villages were included in the “master plan for draft master planning and outline planning.” Master plans were completed or are in preparation for most of the Arab towns. During the past year, seven outline plans were approved in the Arab sector. However, approximately 15 Arab towns have yet to be included in the overall planning process.
On the positive side, it should be noted that 11,500 dunams (2,875 acres) of IDF 107 firing zone territory (belonging to Ruha) were returned to the area of jurisdiction of the Arab towns in Wadi Ara.
4. Industrial Development
The Ministerial Committee on the Non-Jewish Sector decided on August 19th, 2003 that the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor should submit a proposal within 30 days for the inclusion of Arab authorities in the joint administration of industrial areas in their vicinity, and within this framework, to condition the granting of benefit entitlements under the Encouragement of Capital Investment Law on implementation of such inclusion. No such proposal was submitted, and as stated in the Lapid Commission report, the Ministry, together with other factors, are jointly formulating a modus operandi. In other words, notwithstanding the decision that the proposal should be formulated within 30 days – and it is needless to add that such a proposal, even if it does come into being, represents no more than an initial step towards remedying the status quo – after a period of almost one year even the proposal itself has yet to be formulated.
The resolution of August 19th, 2003 determined, inter alia, that the Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor should submit recommendations on the issue of overcoming employment problems specific to the Arab sector, including obstacles standing in the way of progress in existing plans and ways of solving them. The Lapid Commission report states: “Not executed because of excessive obligations on the part of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor. The Ministry is formulating handling mechanisms.”
5. Encouragement of Employment
The Program for Encouragement of Employment in the Periphery, whose function is to formulate a program for the encouragement of employment – to approve criteria for providing support to employers who create good quality new jobs in peripheral and remote towns around the country (Resolution No. 147 of the Ministerial Committee for Social and Economic Affairs – the Social-Economic Cabinet – passed as Case 9, Government Resolution of June 9th, 2005, no. 3716), refers specifically to centers of minority sector population and regions in development areas A and B and in the center of the country. The following towns are included in the “center of the country” category: Umm Al-Fahm, Arara, Mushirfa, Salem, Zalafa, Biada, Musmus, Barta’a, Taibe, Tira, Baka, Jaljulia, Qasim, Kalansawa, Jisr al-Zarka and Furaidis.
A concrete government resolution concerning encouragement of industry and employment in Arab, Druse and Bedouin centers of population was passed in a government resolution dated July 22nd, 2005, with the following wording:
i. To charge the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor with the task of providing assistance in development and expansion of existing industrial areas; establishment of new industrial areas; support of industrial areas currently being established; integration of Arab population centers in existing regional industrial areas; and assistance to small businesses in Arab, Druse and Bedouin centers of population, with a total budget of NIS 40 million.
ii. The budget is to be allocated in 2005 and divided as follows:
a. NIS 20 million from a designated budget allocated to the Prime Minister’s Office by the Ministry of Finance.
b. NIS 20 million from the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor budget.
6. Sewage Infrastructures
A resolution dated July 22nd, 2005 to update assistance plans for centers of population in the non-Jewish sector, for development of sewage treatment infrastructures over three years (2005-2007) in the amount of NIS 400 million (loans and grants), such that the extent of the grant will be increased to 50% – from Finance Ministry sources.
7. Appropriate Representation
In its resolutions of August 19th, 2003 and January 2004, the government determined that government ministries must promote the appointment of Arabs to ministerial positions. The government determined that within three years, i.e. by 2007, numbers of employees from the Arab sector should be 8%, and within five years, i.e. by 2009, this figure should reach 10%. The government also determined that within one year, i.e. by August 2004, at least one Arab director would serve in every government company. Regarding these resolutions, the Lapid Commission report determined that the execution process is slow and that the goals set were not attained “because of other factors at government ministries.”
8. Government Authority
In its report dated June 2004, the Lapid Commission proposed the establishment of a government authority to be named “The Authority for the Advancement of Minority Sectors,” whose goal is progress and the handling of problems specific to non-Jewish sectors, inter alia concerning planning and construction, budgets, prevention of discrimination and appropriate representation in State service, the promotion of education and integration into the Israeli economy and society. The Authority is to operate subject to the Prime Minister.
In Resolution No. 2016 of June 13th, 2004, the government adopted the above-mentioned recommendation and placed responsibility for establishing the Authority within three months on the Director General of the Prime Minister’s Office.
9. Tolerance Day
Another resolution of the Lapid Commission which captured the public attention concerned the establishment of a Tolerance Day. This was adopted in Resolution No. 40/60 of the Ministerial Committee on Ceremonies and Symbols, passed on November 16th, 2004, and validated in a government resolution on December 2nd, 2004 (No. 2829). The text of the resolution is as follows [in translation]:
Based on Government Resolution No. 2020 from June 13th, 2004 to charge the Chairman of the National Security Council, in cooperation with representatives of the Prime Minister’s Office, the ministries of Justice and Education, Culture and Sport, and a representative of the Chairman of the Ministerial Committee on Ceremonies and Symbols – with formulating within one month a proposal regarding the composition of a public committee to make recommendations to the Ministerial Committee on Ceremonies and Symbols about deciding a date for “Tolerance Day”, and propose a program and ceremonial characteristics to be marked on that day – as an expression of increased tolerance and solidarity between all sectors of Israeli society.
10. National Service
The Lapid Commission also recommended that the government should promote the concept of instituting state civilian national service, to be performed by Israeli citizens who are not called up for military service. Such service may be performed on a voluntary basis and, as a preliminary stage, within the framework of their own community.
The government shall encourage possibilities for expanding the numbers of people from the Arab sector who volunteer to serve in the IDF, the Israel Police and other frameworks, and shall examine ways to promote such volunteer activity.
Completion of budget for the Abu Basma District Council
Further to Government Resolution 881 of September 29th, 2003 regarding the need for completion of planning and development in the new Bedouin towns of Tarabin, Qasr, Abu Krinat, Makchul, Umm Batin, Mulada and Bir Haddaj under the auspices of the Abu Basma District Council, and the town of El-Said, whose municipal affiliation has not yet been determined, the government decided on July 22nd, 2005 (Resolution No. 3956) to designate an overall budget in the amount of NIS 387.7 million for the development of infrastructures and public buildings in the period 2005-2008 (breakdown available from government ministries on request).
Program to foster excellence in Bedouin society in the Negev
Resolutions of the Ministerial Committee for Development of the Negev and the Galilee dated July 18th, 2005, which were validated as a government resolution on August 4th, 2005 (No. 4007), to assist via the Authority for Development of the Negev in promoting a program for the fostering of excellence in Bedouin society in the Negev, in light of a governmental obligation to improve the status of Bedouin society, especially in the areas of elementary and secondary education and society.
The program shall be implemented at the initial stage in three local authorities (Chura, Kaspit and Segev Shalom). The goal of the program is to foster excellence in the fields of education and society among Bedouin youth, to increase their access to higher education and ensure placement of Bedouin academics in the employment market.
Monies are to be transferred from government ministries to the Authority for Development of the Negev for execution of the program in the 2005 financial year, as follows:
- Office of the Deputy Prime Minister NIS 1 million
- Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport NIS 415,000
- Ministry of Finance NIS 415,000
12. The Israel Police
Government Resolution No. 2038 of June 13th, 2004 refers to: “Formulation and update of procedures and directives in the Israel Police further to the Orr Commission report.”
i. Directives and procedures of the Operations Division were updated, including the procedure for police handling of breaches of the peace and procedure for implementing measures to impose public order.
ii. A reorganization process was begun regarding codes, directives and procedures (authority, writing, distribution, hierarchy, etc.).
iii. Exercises, training and seminars were implemented according to the operations code.
iv. A Commissioner’s goal of professionalism was determined, to assimilate the various procedures and instructions for professionalism by means of knowledge tests.
Government Resolution No. 2036 of June 13th, 2004 refers to: “the Israel Police policy on the closure and opening of main axis roads – further to the Orr Commission report.”
a. Planned main axis road closure policy
As a rule, the police shall not plan to close off a main axis road, except in the following cases: where there is real and immediate danger to road users; where it is necessary to isolate and control an event and restrict such event on the roads; for events authorized by law, where closure of the road is considered essential for such an event to take place.
b. Road opening policy
Unlawful closure or blockage of a main axis road shall elicit an appropriate response from the police as authorized under law and according to an assessment of the situation aimed at opening the road to traffic and taking legal action against offenders, while exercising all possible restraint and preserving human life. The appropriate response shall be implemented after examining the ratio between damage caused as a result of closing the road and the anticipated result of its opening.
Government Resolution No. 2016 of June 13th, 2004 refers to: “the establishment of a government authority for the advancement of minority sectors.”
i. To determine that the Ministerial Committee on the Non-Jewish Sector, established in Government Resolution No. 22 at a government session held on March 9th, 2003 and headed by the Prime Minister, shall be a permanent committee.
ii. To establish a government authority to be named “The Authority for the Promotion of Minority Sectors.” The goal of the Authority shall be the promotion and handling of problems specific to non-Jewish sectors, inter alia concerning planning and construction, budgets, prevention of discrimination and appropriate representation in State service, the promotion of education and integration into the Israeli economy and society. The Authority’s role shall be to ensure implementation of Ministerial Committee resolutions; to follow up their implementation; to maintain ongoing contact with the different government ministries regarding the handling of minority sectors; and to report on all of the above-stated to the Prime Minister and the Ministerial Committee.
iii. The Authority shall operate subject to the Prime Minister.
iv. Until the establishment of such Authority, a follow-up committee on behalf of the National Security Council shall operate further to the conclusions of this report. The committee shall be appointed by the Head of the National Security Council.
v. The Director General of the Prime Minister’s Office shall be charged with establishing the Authority for the Promotion of Minority Sectors, within the framework of the Prime Minister’s Office, within three months.
13. New Composition of Ministerial Committee on the Non-Jewish Sector
Further to Government Resolution No. 22 of March 9th, 2003 to determine a new composition for the Ministerial Committee on the Non-Jewish Sector, on January 23rd, 2005 the government determined (Resolution No. 3106) the following composition:
i. Prime Minister – Chairman, Deputy Prime Minister
ii. Acting Prime Minister, Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor, Minister of Finance
iii. Minister of Defense
iv. Minister of Police (Internal Security), Minister of Housing and Construction
v. Minister of Education, Culture and Sport, Minister of Internal Affairs
vi. Minister of Immigrant Absorption, Minister of Tourism
vii. Minister of National Infrastructure, Minister Natan Sharansky
i. Attorney General
ii. Director General of the Prime Minister’s Office
iii. Advisor to the Prime Minister on Arab Affairs
Committee’s Areas of Authority:
i. Handling of the problems of Israel’s non-Jewish citizens.
ii. The Ministerial Committee shall make decisions with the consent of the government, and its resolutions shall be considered as government resolutions passed during its sessions.
Note: The new composition of the Ministerial Committee replaces the composition determined in Government Resolution No. 22 above, including any changes that took place in the above-mentioned composition up to the date on which the present resolution was passed.
14. Appointment of Member of the Second Television and Radio Authority Council
In Government Resolution No. 3411 of March 21st, 2005, further to a proposal by the Minister of Communications, the government appointed Dr. Ruwaida Abu-Ras as a member of the Second Television and Radio Authority Council, to replace Ms. Nina Admoni, who resigned.
The Prime Minister stated that he welcomes Dr. Ruwaida Abu Ras’s appointment and considers it important. He pointed out the necessity of granting proper representation to the non-Jewish population within the framework of appointments in service of the State.
15. Assistance in Handling Damage Caused to Property at Mughar
Further to Government Resolution No. 3502 of April 3rd, 2005 to assist in cases of damage to property in the private sector at Kfar Mughar, it was decided to charge the Ministry of Internal Affairs with coordinating implementation of steps towards providing such assistance.
On July 3rd, 2005, the government decided that assistance would be provided according to criteria determined for compensation to those injured in acts of terror, mutatis mutandis by committee resolutions on ex gratia payment to people suffering damage against a nationalistic background.
In order to verify that the allocation of resources will be channeled to assistance solely in respect of damages caused in the riots at Kufr Mughar in February 2005, the Committee must consider determination of criteria, inter alia regarding the method of proving damage, the method of determining assistance to anyone who attempted to repair damages caused to them, the method of transferring monies for assistance to those eligible for them, and donations and grants received in connection with the above-mentioned damages.
Implementation of the criteria in concrete cases shall be made by the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
- For purposes of executing this resolution, the following amounts shall be allocated by government ministries as specified below:
Ministry of Finance NIS 1m. in 2005, and NIS 1m.
- Ministry of Internal Affairs NIS 1m. in 2005, and NIS 1m.
- Ministry of Housing and Construction NIS 1.25m. in 2006
- Office of the Deputy Prime Minister NIS 0.75m. at the end of 2005, subject to a 2005 budget surplus in the Ministry’s budget
- Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor
NIS 1m. in 2006
16. The Murderous Attack at Shfar’am – Processes and Actions of the National Insurance Institute
In a resolution dated August 7th, 2005 (validated as a government resolution on August 25th, 2005), the Ministerial Committee on Ceremonies and Symbols, further to directives by the Prime Minister, moved to approve steps and actions in the matter of humanitarian assistance to be provided by the National Insurance Institute to the bereaved families of the four people killed in the appalling murderous attack at Shfar’am.
The Ministerial Committee noted that further handling of the bereaved families by the National Insurance Institute shall be determined, as soon as possible, by a joint committee of the National Insurance Institute and the ministries of Defense and Justice, and where necessary ex gratia handling.