Israeli Interior Minister Pledges Greater Funding for Arab Towns

Arye Dery says the Arabs are integrating, adding that ‘in Sweden there’s a greater identification with the Islamic State than in Israel.’

Arye Dery speaking at the annual Herzliya Conference at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, June 14, 2016.
Olivier Fitoussi

Interior Minister Arye Dery has promised to take funding from wealthier communities and give it to poorer ones, particularly Arab towns, which he said were increasingly integrating into the wider Israeli society.

“It is inconceivable for Arab towns to have no source of income other than municipal tax,” Dery said at the annual Herzliya Conference at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya.

Speaking Tuesday, he added, “Everyone wants their own culture, but it’s one country.”

Dery lauded the integration of the Arab community. “In Sweden there’s a greater identification with the Islamic State than in Israel,” he said.

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon had said Monday that the Prime Minister’s Office was delaying the transfer of 2.5 billion shekels ($647,000) to Arab locales because the state had still not decided how to enforce planning and construction laws in Arab towns and villages.

Speaking to the Knesset, Kahlon said the 2.5 billion would augment the budget for housing and other needs as part of the plan to invest in Arab society approved at the end of last year.

Dery also spoke about the controversial appointment of Netanyahu associate Rami Sadan as chairman of Channel 10 News after he allegedly made disparaging remarks about Jews of Middle Eastern origin and Dery himself at a board meeting last week.

“Now that we have heard more and more reports that the remarks were indeed made, Shas will not act as if nothing happened,” Dery said, referring to his party, whose main constituency is ultra-Orthodox Jews with roots in the Middle East.

Dery once again demanded that Netanyahu and the Second Authority for Television and Radio rescind Sadan’s appointment. “If we are silent now about such racist statements, discrimination will continue in actions,” Dery said.

As he put it, “We will not let up, we will fight with all the tools at our disposal. From today everyone must know that there is a price to pay for racism.”