Pres. Rivlin meets Druze, Circassian leaders over funding delays

President Rivlin meets with Druze and Circassian leaders in light of their protest against delays in government funds to their communities.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Pres. Rivlin meets with Druze & Circassian local council heads
Pres. Rivlin meets with Druze & Circassian local council heads
Mark Neiman (GPO)

President Reuven Rivlin met Monday with the forum of Druze and Circassian local council heads, with the participation of the spiritual leader of the Druze community Sheikh Muafak Tarif. Heads of the local councils of Daliyat al-Carmel, Usifiyya, Peki’in, Abu Snaan, Rama, Sajur, Kfar Kama, Kisra-Sumei, Hurfeish, Beit Jann and Maghar, and MKs Fateen Mulla (Likud), Hamad Amar (Yisrael Beiteinu) and Gadeer Kamal-Mreeh (Yesh Atid) participated in the meeting. The heads of the local councils asked the president for his help in resolving the crisis with government ministries after the budgets they were promised, some NIS 200 million, were not transferred.

During the conversation, the president said, “I have not doubt that the Israeli government will do everything necessary to allow the communities to expand and grow naturally. However, we must be smart. Looking ahead, we must ensure that the development of the villages is done in partnership, with consideration and in an organized way. The coronavirus must not be allowed to get in the way of your understandable concerns, but we must think about how to deal with it whilst it is here. We have a shared responsibility for Israel’s recovery from the current situation.”

The president also said, “I am working every day to protect the equal rights of all Israelis because it is our duty. The bond between is a fellowship of life and equality. I call on the government not to ignore the complaints of Druze and Circassian municipal leaders, and to pay the budgets agreed by the government in full, a need which is even greater during as we deal with coronavirus. In addition, the new government, when formed, should put forward a five-year plan as part of the next state budget, together with the heads of local authorities, and ensure it properly answers the needs of Druze and Circassian authorities.”

Head of the forum of Druze and Circassian local authority heads, Jaber Hammoud, told the president of a long list of promises and government resolutions that have not been implemented. He said “the feeling we get is of the government betraying the Druze and Circassian population in budgets and decisions since the Nation-State Law was passed.”

Local council heads said that these communities are the only ones operating without a development plan or multi-year plans. Grants to their communities have been cut while others have been enlarged, and even the interim budget of 200m NIS authorized by the government in January 2020 has not been transferred. As a consequence, unemployment and poverty in Druze and Circassian communities has rocketed above the national average. The authorities are close to collapse because the government is not transferring budgets, and people are struggling to pay their taxes.

Spiritual leader of the Druze community Sheikh Muafak Tarif and the heads of Druze and Circassian local councils asked the president to support their struggle for their equal rights to be recognized as citizens who fulfil all their duties.