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finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich of Israel restores Financial Support For Palestinian Communities

In a notable shift in policy, Israel’s Finance Minister, Bezalel Smotrich, has declared the reinstatement of financial assistance for Palestinian communities residing in Israel. Previously, these funds had been halted due to concerns over their potential contribution to an increase in criminal activities, sparking outrage among local mayors and legislators.

Smotrich, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s administration, had previously argued that the budget allocations directed towards local councils with a Palestinian majority were driven by political motives and could end up benefiting “criminals and extremists.” This standpoint had faced criticism from various sectors, including Palestinian-majority councils, community leaders, and the National Committee of Arab Local Councils in Israel, who condemned Smotrich’s actions as discriminatory.

Nevertheless, in a statement released on Monday, Smotrich introduced a monitoring system aimed at guaranteeing the transparent and secure transfer of funds to these communities. “We are preventing criminal elements from gaining control over the resources destined for the Arab authorities,” declared Smotrich.

Palestinian citizens in Israel, who constitute a substantial portion of the country’s population, have long been subject to systemic bias and insufficient financial support, leading to their marginalized position within society. The contentious 2018 nation-state legislation further widened this gap by favoring the rights of Jewish citizens over those of Palestinians and the Arabic language spoken by them.

Despite enjoying citizenship and the right to vote, Palestinian communities in Israel frequently struggle with high levels of poverty, inadequate law enforcement, and minimal government funding. These circumstances have led to disproportionately high crime rates within these community enclaves.

Tragically, data indicates a surge in violence against Palestinian citizens in Israel, with a minimum of 157 individuals having been murdered since the year commenced. This stark increase is alarming compared to the corresponding period last year and represents the highest toll recorded since 2014.

Smotrich’s choice to resume financial aid for Palestinian communities is viewed as a positive step towards redressing longstanding grievances and promoting greater fairness within Israeli society. Nonetheless, it also underscores the persistent obstacles that Palestinian citizens encounter in their quest for equality and fairness.

Image Source: David Cohen 156 / Shutterstock

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