The cabinet approved on Sunday the allocation of NIS 680 million ($184M) to Druze and Circassian communities in northern Israel.
"The aid will give our communities a boost," said Salah Fares, head of the Forum of Druze and Circassians in Israel.
The aid program, which will begin this year and run through 2014, will focus on education, welfare, employment, housing and tourism.
"I hope we receive the entire sum, because a society is measured primarily by the services it provides to its citizens, by the education is gives the young generation and solutions it provides with regards to welfare and the community," said Fares, who also heads the Hurfeish Local Council.
According to the plan, NIS 222 million ($60 million) will be allotted for the construction of classrooms and kindergartens, as well as for educational programs. Some NIS 16 million ($4.3 million) will be designated for the establishment of training and employment guidance centers; NIS 40 million (about $11M) will be used to help discharged soldiers, and another NIS 36 million (about $9.8 million) will be designated for the development of tourism infrastructure in the Druze and Circassian communities.
"We want to help discharged soldiers find plots on which they can build their homes and allow them to live their lives in dignity with the same benefits all of the country's citizens are entitled to," said Peki'in local council head Muhammad Khir.
"We mustn't forget that most of our local council heads inherited deficits, and with the help of government programs we were able to stabilize the system," he told Ynet.
"The fact that the decision was approved by ministers from various parties – including Likud, Shas and Yisrael Beiteinu - shows that the Druze and Circassians are important to them."
The communities which will be included in the program are: Yarka, Ein el-Asad, Beit Jan, Julis, Hurfeish, Peki'in, Yanuh-Jat, Kasra Samiya, Sajur and Kfar Kama, Rama, Abu Snan and Rehaniya.
In addition, the Druze villages of Usfiya, Daliyat el-Carmel and Maghar will be given NIS 32 million ($8.7 million) as part of a previous government decision.
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