Bennett's Committee for Fighting Crime in Israel's Arab Community to Convene for First Time

The committee is likely to face a backlash over Shin Bet involvement, but may have a better chance at succeeding than previous attempts because of increased funding pledged to the Arab sector in coalition agreements

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Bennett with Shabtai, Bar-Lev, and Segalovitz at the announcement of the national plan to fight viol
Bennett with Shabtai, Bar-Lev, and Segalovitz at the announcement of the national plan to fight violence in the Arab community, in AugustCredit: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

The ministerial committee for combatting violence in the Arab community in Israel, headed by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, will meet for the first time Sunday.

Despite the expected criticism, Bennett backs allowing the Shin Bet security service to fight crime in Arab towns, and the government will assess the legal and practical feasibility of that option. A senior figure in the government said that "Israel's Arabs are the ones begging for us to bring the Shin Bet in. We'll do so systematically and correctly."

LISTEN: How a Palestinian prison break challenged Zionism’s narrative monopolyCredit: Haaretz

The Arab crime czar, Deputy Public Security Minister Yoav Segalovitz, is expected to present a plan to handle the issue at the inaugural meeting. Representatives from the Interior Ministry, Finance Ministry and Shin Bet will also attend the meeting.

Ministerial committees meant to handle crime in the Arab community had been founded in the past, but to little avail. Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared in February, before his election defeat, that he intends on founding a ministerial committee on the issue that he would head.

The murder scene of an 18-year-old in central Israel, in August

However, the new committee may have a greater impact than previous attempts because of the large funds that the government is reserving for the Arab community as part of coalition agreements with the United Arab List party. The committee is also supposed to signal how seriously the coalition views the issue.

In August, Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev and Israel Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai, along with Bennett and Segalovitz, presented a national plan for fighting crime in the Arab sector.

The plan includes increasing police presence in cities and roads, strengthening the police's intelligence and investigative capabilities, and fighting crime families. The plan also calls for increasing the police force by 1,100 and creating financial bodies that deal with the extortion of protection money. Moreover, the establishment of new police stations and reinforcing existing ones, including near unrecognized Bedouin villages, has already been approved.

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