.Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the 2 billion shekel ($510 million) multi-year plan “for the development of the Druze and Circassian communities” at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday.
The plans followed the earlier announcement of a 15 billion shekel ($3.8 billion) five-year plan to address the gaps in access to infrastructure and discrepancies in rights between Palestinians with Israeli citizenship and their Jewish counterparts.While it was not initially clear whether the assistance to the Druze and Circassian communities was included in this larger plan, Netanyahu warned separately on Sunday that the larger plan for the development of other “Arab communities” was dependent on the implementation of a law enforcement plan alongside it.
“I want to make it clear that nothing that has been done in various areas — infrastructure, tourism, education, trade, economy — can move forward if we do not address the question of enforcing the laws of the state of Israel in the Arab sector,” the prime minister said.The further security measures proposed by Netanyahu would target Palestinian citizens of Israel — who represent an estimated 20 percent of the Israeli population — but would, critics say, do so unequally.Security measures for ‘good Arabs and bad Arabs’Palestinian communities in Israel recently came under intense scrutiny from Israel’s security forces after a Palestinian with Israeli citizenship, Nashat Melhem, allegedly killed two Israelis at a Tel Aviv cafe on Jan. 1, before killing a Palestinian citizen of Israel as he fled the scene.Melhem was killed in a shootout with Israeli forces on Jan. 8 in his hometown of Arara in northern Israel.Jafar Farah, the director of the Mossawa Advocacy Center For Arab Citizens In Israel, told Ma’an at the time that there had been a high level of incitement against Palestinians with Israeli citizenship on the part of Israeli government officials.
“The atmosphere right now is very heavy and racist — there is a lot of incitement against Arabs,” Farah said. “We know that in these circumstances there is no authority willing to intervene in the media to do anything other than support the (crackdown).””This is a period where the extreme right wing is trying to prove that the occupation is not the problem, but the relationship between Jewish and Arab communities is.”Farah’s sentiments were echoed by Aida Touma-Suleiman, a member of the Israeli’s Knesset representing the left-wing Hadash party of the Arab Joint List coalition, who sees the Israeli government’s recent funding plans as reflective of its discriminatory policy.
Touma-Suleiman slammed the government’s intention to tie development aid for Palestinian communities to law enforcement as an attempt “to create conditioned citizenship.”This “conditioned citizenship,” she said, was being carried out by the Israeli government with the aim of creating divisions among Palestinians in Israel.”This has been a tactic from different Israeli governments, even those who claim they are from the left,” she told Ma’an. “They try to divide and conquer us, either based on geographical locations, religious affiliations, and now between good Arabs and bad Arabs. Those who obey the government, who serve in the military, will benefit from the plan, and those who refuse the government’s oppression will not.”We are used to the attempted fragmentation of the community, and we’ll always stand against it,” she said.