Netanyahu: Lawlessness Must Be Addressed for Investment in Arab Community to Move Forward

Prime minister says there are 'gaps' between rights and duties of Israeli Arabs, saying comprehensive law enforcement plan to be enacted alongside development.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on January 10, 2016.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on January 10, 2016.Credit: AFP

The government's development plan for the Arab sector "won't be able to move forward if we don’t take care of [law] enforcement in the Arab community," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the opening of Sunday's cabinet meeting.

"Everyone knows that there are large gaps between the Arab and the Jewish communities," Netanyahu noted, adding that there are also disparities in the allocation of resources and law enforcement. "There are gaps in the rights and gaps in the duties," he said.

Two weeks ago, the government approved a 15 billion shekel ($3.85 billion) program for social and employment development for Israel’s Arab community. The approval came after two previous sessions failed to agree on five-year plan's details, with ministers then unanimously approving the program with only minor changes.

The prime minister added on Sunday that the gaps between Arabs and Jews in Israel "were created over decades," and that an extensive national effort must be made to narrow them. He mentioned the plan approved by the government for investment in the Arab, but said that at the same time the government will implement a comprehensive plan for law enforcement in the Arab community.   

"The two plans are intertwined," Netanyahu said. "It will first and foremost benefit the country's Arab citizens. I believe that whoever wants true integration of Israel's Arab citizens will be a full partner in this national effort."

Following the Tel Aviv shooting earlier this month, allegedly carried out by Israeli Arab Nashat Melhem, Netanyahu called on Israel's Muslim citizens to integrate in Israeli society. "Whoever wants to be Israeli must be Israeli all the way," he said.

"I will not accept two states within Israel," Netanyahu said. Israel, he said, cannot be a lawful state for some and lawless for others, where "there are enclaves without law enforcement, with Islamist propaganda, with plenty of weapons often fired during wedding celebrations, with constant crime."