The conference will be held on Thursday, February 21, 2022, between 9:30 and 4:00 p.m. at Tel Aviv University.
The Mossawa Center, in cooperation with the National Committee of the Heads of Arab Local Authorities, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and the Center for Local Government Studies at Tel Aviv University, is holding a conference on the economic development of the Palestinian Arab community following the dissolution of the Knesset.
This conference has been held annually in cooperation with the Palestinian Arab Memebers of the Knesset Finance Committee since 1999 and aims to follow up on the budgets allocated to the Palestinian Arab community by government offices. The impact of the current government crisis on monitoring government budgets for the Palestinian Arab community was evaluated and it was decided to hold this year’s conference at Tel Aviv University in order to follow up on monitoring and spending of budgets, as well as to discuss the challenges that Palestinian Arab towns face.
The government had adopted a Plan No. 550 in October 2021, a multi-billion shekel development plan for the Palestinian Arab community. It was suppose to allocate 5.5 billion shekels for the implementation of the plan in 2022, in addition to following up on approving the budget items of various government offices that were meant to be transferred for approval by the Finance Committee. However, the majority of the items remained suspended due to the ongoing political crisis in the country.
Despite the promises, the Palestinian Arab local authorities and government ministries waited for the budgets to be transferred for housing projects, transportation, environmental protection, education, social welfare, and health, but the majority of the funds were frozen and their disbursement was stopped, despite the existence of plans by the aforementioned ministries. .
Director of Mossawa Center Jafar Farah affirmed, “The Arab community has the right to obtain government budgets without any relation to the status of the government coalition. We pay taxes to the state treasury and we have the right to get the money back to invest in closing the economic and social gaps our community has. On a weekly basis, we follow the Ministry of Finance’s requests to the Finance Committee to transfer budgets to government offices, including to Palestinian Arab local authorities.”
Judith Stelmach of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation said, “In order to develop the economy in the Palestinian Arab community, we must focus on economic development through attention to all sectors and labor market variables, which will benefit everyone.”
The Chairman of the National Committee of the Heads of Arab Local Authorities, Mudar Younis, said in Haditha, “The conference presents the importance of analyzing and discussing government budgets allocated for the economic development of the Palestinian Arab community. He called on ministers and general managers of government ministries and the Ministry of Finance to work side by side with businesspeople to study how to implement government decisions while benefiting from the participation of the private sector. He added that the Palestinian Arab community does not pay taxes to political parties, but to the government, so monitoring budgets is a basic right without any relationship to partisanship, pointing to the importance of investing in industrial areas and finding solutions to the housing, transportation, education, health, and social welfare crises.
The conference will discuss a number of themes, including the economy of Palestinian Arab local authorities, the promotion of self-income, and the expansion of projects that enhance the income of Palestinian Arab local authorities.
It is important to note that the revenues of most Palestinian Arab local authorities are currently based on taxes imposed on residential real estate (Arnona), which hinders the development of economic projects. In recent years, we have witnessed trends towards investing in projects that raise the level of self-income.
The last session of the conference will discuss investment in Palestinian Arab youth, whose percentage among the youth in the country is about 25%. Issues such as integrating Palestinian Arab youth into higher education, vocational training, government employment programs, and the private sector will be addressed.
The percentage of Palestinian Arab students in universities has reached about 17%, which requires providing frameworks for vocational training and employment security workshops for Palestinian Arab youth. This is especially important since the rate of workplace injuries for Palestinian Arab youth is relatively high. The conference will tackle ways to enhance the integration of Palestinian Arab youth into the labor market and address their contribution to economic growth.
The conference will be held on Thursday, 21.7.2022 from 9:30 to 16:00 at Tel Aviv University, and will include representatives of government ministries, economists, heads of Palestinian Arab local authorities, and representatives from the private sector.