More than 50 percent of Israel's Arab citizens live under the poverty line, a new book published by the Center of the Study of Israeli Arab Society of the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute reveals.
According to the book, the situation of Israel's Arab society, which includes 1.1 million citizens, has deteriorated in recent years, mostly due to lack of governmental funding.
The Arab community suffers from social and cultural problems, severe economic distress, and problems of violence, drugs and unemployment. Arabs are also discriminated against in terms of education, employment and infrastructure budgets, the study claims.
Researchers of the Van Leer institute who contributed to the book believe that without a drastic change in the Israeli government's policy – mainly its economic policy – the situation of the Arab population stands to remain the same.
The researchers recommend that the government implement a more egalitarian policy – even at the price of imposing affirmative action – toward Israeli Arabs, and allocate more funds for infrastructure, education and employment.
'Poverty affects ties with country'
The book's editor, Dr. Aziz Haidar, pointed to the concerning rate of poverty within the Arab society in the country. The study indicates that 58.6 percent of the Arab households in Israel earn an income that places them below, or in the same level as the poverty line.
The vast majority of Arab households (62.2 percent) are located in the three lowest income percentiles in Israel, while 97.5 percent of Arab local councils rank at the bottom of the income scale.
Dr. Haidar stressed that the relations between Israeli-Arab citizens and their country are influenced by their socio-economic status, and that there is therefore a vested interest in investing in this population's standards of living and opportunities. Israeli-Arabs seek greater involvement and partnership in society, Haidar stated.