By Zack Pyzer
At a weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday, a new five-year plan was approved for the development of Israel’s Druze and Circassian populations, appropriating NIS 2.2 billion to projects for the two populations.
The figure amounts to triple the sum allocated in the last five-year plan, which expired in this year.
Druze and Circassian Local Council Chairman Jaber Hamed reacted to the announcement by declaring, “On behalf of all our communities, I would like to say that that this government decision is unprecedented.”
The Druze and Circassian population numbers approximately 140,000, of which the Circassians make up around 4,000. The two communities both serve in the IDF, and have been seen as models for minority integration into the Jewish state.
The previous investment plan was touted as leading to higher school grades, as well as improvements in infrastructure and employment within Druze and Circassian towns.
The new plan will focus largely on education, welfare and employment, along with a NIS 700 million budget for building and infrastructure and a smaller budget for tourism.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the meeting, “You represent an entire public that fights and sacrifices for the State of Israel. I think that this 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.”
Ayoub Kara, a Druze deputy minister from the Likud party, also commented, “I think that very considerable work has been done here and I am very pleased that today we will embark on a new path.”