The Netanyahu cabinet on Sunday approved the allocation of $560 million to strengthen Israeli sovereignty in eastern Jerusalem. The budget will be handed out over five years, and much of it will be devoted to encouraging Israelization in the education system in eastern Jerusalem. It will be devoted to the development of schools that will teach the Israeli educational program despite the objections of local Arab parents’ committees.
The government also decided to introduce the RavKav transportation smart card into eastern Jerusalem and open new medical clinics there.
The aim of the new initiative is to encourage Arab schools to move from the Palestinian Authority curriculum to the Israeli program. Most of the Arab students in Jerusalem today follow the PA program and are tested in the PA matriculation exams, which the Tawjihi, the General Secondary Education Certificate Examination from Jordan.
However, in recent years some schools have begun to teach the Israeli program and to examine students under the Israeli matriculation.
The government program will encourage the transition of eastern Jerusalem Arab students to the Israeli studies by allocating $20 million to accompany educational institutions that teach the Israeli program.
$16 million will be allocated for physical development of the schools that have opted for the Israeli program, $19 million for the rental of buildings for these schools, and $4.2 million for Hebrew studies. In addition, $58 million will be allocated to informal education and $4.2 million to technological education.
The program explanatory notes suggest that “the almost complete dominance of studies according to the Palestinian curriculum leads to an inability to integrate students into Israeli academia and, as a result, to an inability to integrate into the employment market.”
According to Ha’aretz, PA officials in Jerusalem, including parents’ committees, oppose the new plan and protest against the pressure on schools to switch to the Israeli program. According to them, Israel seeks to erase the “Palestinian identity” of the students.
The government also approved $98 million for the development of the Old City basin. The plan includes supporting events in the Old City, the Mount of Olives and nearby areas, increasing cleanliness and maintenance, developing public spaces and business development, and continuing the project to renovate the Jewish cemetery on Mount Olives.
The government also approved a plan to improve public transportation infrastructure in eastern Jerusalem. Among other things, the Transport Ministry will allow the use of the RavKav transportation smart card in the Arab neighborhoods and connect the public transportation systems in the two parts of the city.
As part of the plan, the Health Ministry will transfer funds to the HMOs to launch clinics in eastern Jerusalem. Most of the clinics in the Arab neighborhoods are currently operated by external contractors of the HMOs, and not the HMOs themselves.
In addition, the Ministries of Justice and Finance will allocate $14 million to the land registration service in eastern Jerusalem, which has been frozen since 1967. Due to the freeze, neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem have been subject to planning chaos and numerous economic problems.
The government also approved a plan to double the number of eastern Jerusalem Arabs entering Israeli academic institutions, as well as vocational training, and encouraging the Arab women’s entering the labor market in the city.