A five-year, NIS 2 billion plan aims to improve the lives of minority groups in Israel known to be loyal to the Jewish state.
The Israeli cabinet on Sunday approved the proposal by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon for a five-year plan for the advancement of the Druze and Circassian communities.
The plan, to be set in motion this year, has an overall budget of approximately NIS 2.2 billion ($775 M), three times more than the NIS 680 million plan for 2011-2014.
The new plan was formulated over the past six months by an inter-ministerial committee. The funds will be invested in education, social welfare, employment, tourism, development of public structures and transportation.
The Druze and Circassians “fight and sacrifice for the State of Israel,” and therefore it is “not only a duty, but a privilege to allocate government resources in order to help this public, especially the young people, so that they might have a better future in their communities and in the country,” Netanyahu explained.
The Druze and Circassian population, non-Jewish minorities in Israel, numbers approximately 140,000. The Druze are known for their commitment to the IDF. Today, 85 percent of Israel’s male Druze population chooses to join the Israeli military, and many continue their service far beyond their scheduled release dates.
“I am committed to the Druze public in many ways. I am also committed to integrating it into Israeli society, to closing the gaps and to affording the young people who defend our state a better future in our state,” the premier stated.
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon vowed to carry through with the costly program and said that the government would establish a special agency to monitor its implementation.
Deputy Minister Ayoub Kara, himself a member of the Druze community, said that “this is a national and social need of the highest order. I think that very considerable work has been done here, and I am very pleased that today we will embark on a new path.”
Jaber Hamed, chairman of the Druze and Circassian Local Council, said: “On behalf of all our communities, I would like to say that that this government decision is unprecedented. Working together is the secret of its success and will lead to tangible results.”
By: Max Gelber, United with Israel
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