The State Budget and Economic Development Conference in the Arab Community, held on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, recommended immediate action be taken to secure the funds meant for the Palestinian Arab community from the 2020 budget, especially in the fields of employment and vocational training, health, education and housing. The conference, hosted by the Mossawa Center and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation at the Culture Palace of the Zimmer Local Council, also recommended that Arab local authorities, Knesset members, and political parties work immediately to demand 6.4 billion shekels (~ $2b) from the 2021 budget, a sum which has already presented to the Finance Ministry, other government ministries, and Knesset committees.
The conference was attended by Members of the Parliamentary Finance and Economy Committees, a large number of heads of Arab local authorities, and representatives from civil institutions and government offices. The conference was opened by Alya Zoubi - Parliamentary and Legal Advocacy Coordinator at the Mossawa Center, Tamim Yassin - Chairman of the Local Council hosting the conference, Mohammad Barakeh - Chairman of the High Follow-up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel, Edgar Dakwar - Chair of the Committee for Arab Local Authorities, and Yehudit Stillmach - a representative of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation.
Knesset Members Aida Touma Sliman and Dr. Ahmed Tibi addressed the repercussions of the COVID crisis on the Palestinian-Arab community and the distribution of the state budget for the year 2020 during the crisis. Mossawa Center founder and General Director Jafar Farah discussed the obstacles to securing government budgets and funds, and touched on the failure to implement government decision 922.
Economic Advisor Kamilya Emtanes led the workshop on “The requirements of the 2021 budget and a new plan for economic development and bridging the gaps,” where the issue of industrial and employment zones was addressed by Mr. David Leffler, Director General of the Ministry of Economy, MK Dr. Mtanes Shehadeh, MK Iman Khatib Yassin, and businessman Samer Nakhleh.
MK Osama Saadi, MK Mansour Abbas, and Zimmer Local Council Head Tamim Mansour, and Mossawa Center General Director Jafar Farah discussed recommendations and a future action plan. It was agreed to form working groups that would follow up on the various issues raised regarding securing funds and removing the planning and legal obstacles.
“We held the conference in accordance with health guidelines from the Ministry of Health and we overcame any technical difficulties that arose. We have shared innumerable vital materials compiled by the Mossawa Center in preparation for the conference, and will publish them in the coming days. We have prepared a draft of the Palestinian Arab community’s demands from the 2021 budget, which will published on the Mossawa Center’s website and circulated in the media, with the aim of discussing, developing, and using those materials to influence the economic policy of the government and parliamentary committees responsible for allocating budgets,” said Suha Salman Mousa, the Executive Director of the Mossawa Center.