Friday, December 4, 2020

Druze, Circassians not seduced by Netanyahu’s funds

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Nov 18, 2020 At the beginning of this week’s cupboard assembly, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proudly introduced, “We have a great obligation to our friends in the Druze and Circassian communities. Today, we are submitting another cabinet decision on developing and strengthening these communities, an additional 50 million shekels [$15 million] for planning, infrastructure development, the expansion of Hebrew language studies and more. We are instructing the professional elements in the various ministries to continue formulating the five-year plan.” The announcement struck like thunder on a sunny day. There was no earlier indication that something prefer it was coming, although it’s little doubt a welcome step. It is all the time good to see the federal government investing in minority populations. However, if we glance just a little extra intently on the announcement, the sum is a drop within the proverbial bucket. The Forum of Druze and Circassian Local Authorities represents a complete of 16 localities. How a lot can they actually plan and develop if all they get is about three million shekels ($900,000) apiece? Then there’s the timing of the announcement. It got here three weeks after the federal government authorised one other year-long extension of the five-year plan for the Arab inhabitants and Bedouin localities and simply three days after the Justice Ministry introduced a freeze of the 2017 Kaminitz Law, providing some reduction from enforcement of insurance policies pertaining to unlawful residential development on agricultural land that principally have an effect on Israel’s Arab and agricultural sectors. Considering that the Justice Ministry is managed by the Blue and White Party and never the Likud, the inevitable query is whether or not politics performed a task. Is there a connection between the prime minister’s announcement this week and others over the previous month? It will depend on who you ask. Attorney Malek Bader, former chair of the Forum of Druze Local Authorities, defined to Al-Monitor, “I believe that the announcement came in response to a statement by Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn that he was freezing the implementation of the Kaminitz Law. The new announcement seemed to say that the Likud also knows how to give to the Druze community.” He continued, “The prime minister’s promise to transfer 50 million shekels to the local Druze authorities for future planning is ridiculous for two reasons. The first is that, like the rest of his promises, it will not be fulfilled. The second is that any effort to catch up with planning for the Druze local authorities would require hundreds of millions of shekels, not 50 million.” In response, Likud Knesset member Fateen Mulla, who serves as a deputy minister within the prime minister’s workplace, informed Al-Monitor, “Three weeks in the past, the federal government was requested to complement the help funds in order that it meets the wants of assorted organizations and establishments. Among these had been the Druze and Circassian native authorities. Of this, 50 million shekels had been budgeted to make up for any gaps that the authorities would possibly face till the top of 2020 because of the failure to resume the five-year plan, which resulted in December 2019. Prior to that, the Druze and Circassian native authorities obtained a grant of 27 million shekels [$8 million] to be used in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, whereas the plan to strengthen Druze and Circassian villages has a funds of 202 million shekels [$60 million], of which they’ve already obtained 173 million [$51 million].” The authorities adheres to a divide-and-conquer coverage, the identical coverage adopted by generations of Israeli governments of their dealings with Arab residents. They develop separate plans for the Arab, Bedouin and Druze and Circassian populations, portraying them as distinct in order that they don’t coalesce right into a single political power. For instance, in the course of the 2018 demonstrations towards the nationality regulation, Tel Aviv witnessed two parallel protest actions, one by Druze residents and one other by Muslim and Christian residents, although each demonstrations demanded the repeal of a regulation that affected each teams equally. The sum of 50 million shekels is a trivial quantity to appropriate years of disparities and injustice. In 2017, an earlier Netanyahu authorities allotted 150 million shekels ($44 million) for 40 settler households evacuated from the Amona outpost, following a Supreme Court ruling that development on the web site was unlawful. The ridiculous sum allotted to Druze society is exemplary of huge disparities in investments into Israel’s Jewish and Arab communities. There are already discussions a couple of new spherical of elections in 2021 as subsequent yr’s funds nonetheless awaits approval. Are the 50 million shekels an election ploy supposed to appease the Druze group, which deserted the Likud and voted overwhelmingly for the Blue and White? Jaber Hamoud, head of the Sajour Local Council and chairman of the Forum of Druze and Circassian Local Authorities, informed Al-Monitor, “First of all, I welcome this step. On the other hand, these are sums owed to us as citizens. No one is doing us any favors. It comes in addition to Government Decision 4798, which is estimated to amount to 202 million shekels for 2020, so that it in total, it comes to 252 million shekels [$75 million]. Nevertheless, it should be noted that these are just [appeasement measures] and not a permanent solution to the problems in our towns and villages. We demand the repeal of the Kaminitz Law, which is a death sentence to Arab society in general and Druze society in particular. Furthermore, we demand the approval of the five-year plan to develop and empower Druze and Circassian localities.”

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