Netanyahu Delaying Transfer of 2.5 Billion Shekels to Arab Communities, Finance Minister Says

Funds delayed because state has yet to develop a mechanism to enforce planning and construction laws in these towns, Kahlon says.

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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The Israeli-Arab city of Umm al-Fahm.
The Israeli-Arab city of Umm al-Fahm.Credit: Reuters
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

The Prime Minister’s Office is holding up the transfer of 2.5 billion shekels ($645.3 million) to Arab communities because the state has still not developed a mechanism to enforce planning and construction laws in these towns, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon has told the Knesset.

Kahlon on Monday spoke with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an effort to bet the budgets released, and told the MKs that the Finance Ministry was not responsible for the delay. He was responding to a query addressed to him by MK Yousef Jabareen of the Joint List.

“You know better than anyone how the Finance Ministry pushed for this [funding], how the Finance Ministry led the way on this,” Kahlon said. “The Prime Minister’s Office is delaying it, that’s the truth. I assume that within a month it will end.”

Kahlon said that this money was part of the 15 billion shekels that was being allocated over five years to improve Arab communities, and according to him, a significant majority of the money is advancing. “We cannot say that the 13 billion is not moving. It’s not true. It’s over five years, I believe and it’s working, it’s running,” he said.

Kahlon also raised the issue during a meeting Monday of the coalition party heads that was attended by Netanyahu. “I raised the issue today with the prime minister and my colleagues, the head of the coalition parties,” Kahlon told the Knesset. “There’s one problem, the cabinet has not gone all the way with it because of the issue of enforcement of planning and building laws. It doesn’t matter if I like it or I don’t like it, that’s the fact at the moment. Enforcement is not your problem, it’s the problem of the government that hasn’t created the mechanism.”

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