Knesset Welfare Panel Head: Arab Protest Partly Due to Poverty

Percentage of poor Israeli Arabs about twice that of Israeli Jews.

Gil Eliahu

MK Eli Alalouf (Kulanu), chairman of the Knesset Labor, Health and Welfare Committee, said Tuesday that “some of the protest and revolt from the Arab population we’ve been seeing in recent weeks is an outgrowth of poverty. Nearly 50 percent of the Arab population in this country lives in poverty, and not enough is being done about it.”

At a special session for the “Day of Poverty,” Alalouf said he was sure that “if the poverty rate in the Arab sector were lower, we’d see fewer Arabs participating in protests and supporting the wave of terrorism.”

A report compiled by the Knesset Research and Information Center shows that the percentage of the population living below the poverty line is about twice as high among Arabs in Israel as it is among Jews. In 2013, 52.4 percent of the Arab population was living in poverty compared to 23.8 percent of the Jewish population. Of impoverished Israeli families 38 percent are Arab, much higher than the percentage within the population as a whole.

“On average, there is a 33-percent wage differential between Jews and Arabs,” MK Osama Saadia (Joint Arab List) said at the meeting. “The numbers are appalling. We must reduce unemployment among Arab women and promote a situation whereby there are more Arab families in which both spouses work.”

The incoming director general of the Social Affairs Ministry, Eliezer Yablon, said that the ministry plans to allocate NIS 100 million a year to get families out of the cycle of poverty, with a program that will be used to help 3,020 families with children in 95 localities.