Mossawa Center: the Israeli government is to blame for poverty, food insecurity in Arab society

Half of Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel live below the poverty line and 42% of families experience food insecurity, according to the Mossawa Center.

The Israeli government and Ministry of Finance are to blame for the fact that half of Palestinian Arab society in Israel live below the poverty line and 42% of families experience food insecurity, according to the Mossawa Center – the Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens of Israel. The Ministry of Finance, and Israeli government at large, are responsible for the distribution of the state’s resources and budgets and thus bear the responsibility for the dire socio-economic condition of Palestinian Arab citizens, the Haifa-based organization said.

The Mossawa Center emphasized that the government’s construction, housing, industrial zones, and employment policies, coupled with discriminatory laws such as the Citizenship and Kaminitz Laws, are to blame for poverty in Palestinian Arab society. This is especially true for the unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev (Naqab), where demolitions and persecution of residents are commonplace, Mossawa Center states.

The Socio-Economic Unit at the Mossawa Center analyzed the poverty report published by the National Insurance Institute of Israel and found that the exit of Palestinian Arab families from the poverty cycle depends heavily on the labor market, which prevents the entry of Palestinian Arab women, including academics, and creates obstacles for their integration into the national labor market. Moreover, the labor market has gaps in opportunities for young Palestinian Arabs in acquiring higher education.

Meanwhile, governmental planning policy has caused an acute housing crisis in Palestinian Arab society. The deliberate lack of planning in Palestinian Arab localities has forced many to construct houses and other structures “illegally” (i.e. without permit). Thus, through the Kaminitz Law, the Israeli government enforces building violations through demolitions and astronomical fines that weaken the economic and financial situation of Palestinian Arab families, further increasing poverty rates.

Due to the racist housing policies of subsequent governments over the decades, about 100,00 Palestinian Arab citizens in Israel live in unrecognized (or deprived of recognition) villages; and tens of thousands of other Palestinian Arab families suffer from a lack of the most basic rights due to discriminatory legislation such as the Citizenship Law.

From the analysis conducted by the Mossawa Center, it is clear that there is a lack of organizations and institutions for protecting and obtaining economic rights in Palestinian Arab localities. As such, thousands of Palestinian Arab families – and local municipalities – are ineligible for tax breaks and government grants.

The Mossawa Center stated that most of the food security programs funded by the government are mainly intended for ultra-Orthodox families and the needs of Palestinian Arab families are ignored. Mossawa Center emphasized that the continued discrimination in healthcare services in Palestinian Arab society depends poverty rates and is a direct factor in the short life expectancy of the Palestinian Arab citizen compared to their Jewish counterpart. Many Palestinian Arab families in need turn to loans at very high interest rates to meet their healthcare needs.

Less than 5% of the government development budget is dedicated to the Palestinian Arab community, which is a major factor in the growing socio-economic gaps between the Palestinian Arab and Jewish communities in Israel, according to the Mossawa Center.

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