Civil Service: Hire More Arabs

Israel must ensure that 10% of public workers are Arab, the new head of the Civil Service said Tuesday.

David Lev , | updated: 5:13 AM

Jews, Arabs in Jerusalem (file)
Jews, Arabs in Jerusalem (file)
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Israel is behind on its “affirmative action” goals, the new head of the Civil Service said Tuesday. And if those goals are not met by next year – there will be “consequences,” attorney Moshe Dayan told a Knesset committee investigating why Arabs were still underrepresented in government jobs.

In 2007, the government decided that by 2012, at least 10% of government workers should be from the Arab sector. With less than a year to go, the percentage of Arab workers in government jobs stands at 7.52%, for a total of 4,717 workers. Most of them – 58%, or 2,729 – work in the health system, while the rest are spread throughout the other offices.

A report on the matter, presented to a Knesset committee investigating ways to increase the numbers of Arabs working in state service, showed that the main reason for the relatively larger numbers of Arabs in the medical system is because there are many more job opportunities there than in other spheres. However, of the senior positions in health care, only 1.5% are occupied by Arabs. Out of the other government offices, fewer than 5% are Arab, even in offices with large numbers of workers, including the Welfare and Housing Ministries, and the Tax Authority.

Speaking before the committee, Dayan said that “the situation is not good. I have no explanation for the success in this effort in the health system, but I intend to put the general directors of ministries and government corporations on notice that they need to do more. Any ministry or company that fails, will be dealt with. As far as the Civil Service Authority is concerned, we shall move forward and hire as many Arabs as possible.”

Dayan did not specify how offices that fail to follow the directive will be “dealt with.” Civil Service officials said that if the 10% criteria is to be met by next year, at least 1,800 Arabs would need to be recruited in the coming months. A poll presented to the Committee showed that 60% of Jewish Israelis saw the inclusion of more Arabs in the civil service as positive, while 86% of Arabs polled said they would be interested in opportunities in government service.