Eyal Gabai, director-general of the Prime Minister's Office
Photo: Alex Kolomoisky
The government is soon expected to a new national priorities list, following administrative work at the Prime Minister's Office. According to the plan, the new areas of national priority will include about two million citizens, about 40% of them belonging to minority groups – most of whom are Israeli Arabs.
Nearly four years ago, the High Court of Justice ruled that the Arab sector in Israel is being discriminated against.
Eyal Gabai, director-general of the Prime Minister's Office, presented the principles of the new map to members of the Labor faction. The program defined the general outline for governmental benefits and incentives in the fields of education, housing, urban development, employment and infrastructure.
According to the apparent map, it will include the Negev, Galilee, Golan Heights and threatened communities in the West Bank, as well as communities located up to 7 kilometers (4.35 miles) from the border.
Some two million people will be included on the map, and for the first time the Arab population will constitute almost 40%.
Gabai has held dozens of meetings with ministers, Knesset members, mayors and social organizations – Jews and Arabs – over the past few months in an attempt to form the map, on the backdrop of the High Court ruling. He promised that the discrimination created would not repeat itself on the current map.
In February 2006, the High Court of Justice accepted a petition filed by Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and ruled that the government must set open and clear criteria for the national preference areas.
Justice Dorit Beinish, who is today the Supreme Court president, wrote at the time that "dividing the communities into areas of national priority was made without considering the Arab population, and therefore damages the principles of equality in a disproportional manner."
Then-Supreme Court president Aharon Barak mentioned that "the geographic delimitation led to the fact that only four small communities were given the status of a national priority area for benefits in education compared to 500 Jewish communities.