Session at Sderot
Israel's failure to integrate its Arab population into its economy is costing the country billions, experts claimed during a session dedicated to the subject of economic equality on Tuesday as part of the Sderot-Israel Conference.
The session, presented by the Abraham Fund Initiatives, focused on the importance of integrating Arab citizens into the Israeli market and hosted various economic, academic, policy, and non-profit professionals.
The session is part of a greater campaign launched by the fund to generate awareness regarding the problematic situation, together with a publication dealing with the “Economic Benefits of Arab Jewish Equality and Integration.”
'Strategic plan needed' (Photo: Yaacob Ibrahim)
"The Israeli market will lose NIS 40 billion ($10.2 billion) this year, which is six percent of the GNP, as a result of the failure to integrate Israeli Arabs into the market.”
Aiman Seif, director of the Economic Development Department of the non-Jewish Sector (Prime Minister’s Office), said in his address.
Dr. Yaron Zelekha, president of the Arab-Israeli Center for Technology and High-Tech and Israel's former accountant-general, pointed to a chromic gap between the supply of qualified manpower and the demand for workers in the high-tech industry. He said that without integrating the Arab sector into this industry, which is Israel's main engine for growth and foreign investments, these gaps were not likely to lessen.
'State paying a heavy price'Another speaker and one of Israel's senior economists David Brodat stated that in order to bring about the desired change, the government needs to initiate a full-scale social-economic strategic plan that would focus on the Arab public.
Co-executive Directors of the Abraham Fund Initiatives, Amnon Be’eri-Sulitzeanu and Mohammad Darawshe, said that the session was designed to illustrate the benefits of the full integration of Arabs into Israeli society, and the economic rewards of such integration.
“The State of Israel is not making sufficient efforts to integrate its Arab citizens into the economy and as a result it is paying a heavy price. If Israel were to have a policy of integration and inclusion, it would be of great worth in the long term for all citizens of the state,” said Be’eri-Sulitzeanu.