Israeli-Palestinian councils on strike to protest coronavirus funding discrimination
Arab local councils within Israel's 1948 borders began a strike on Tuesday, to protest against "discrimination" by the Israeli government in granting emergency funding to local authorities to compensate for losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic
Arab-Israelis, also known as Palestinian-Israelis, make up over 20 percent of Israel's population and suffer systematic discrimination. They are descended from Palestinians who did not flee their homes in 1948, when Zionist militias expelled the vast majority of Palestinians from what is now Israel.
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The Israeli government recently announced that it had allocated a budget for this year of 2.8 billion shekels ($794 million) to local councils across the country. However, only 47 million shekels (US$13 million) – roughly 1.7 percent - of that was allocated to Palestinian-Israeli councils in Israel.
The National Committee of Arab Local Authorities announced the strike after a number of attempts to convince the Israeli government to grant Palestinian councils fairer budgets and cancel discriminatory standards of budget allocation. The strike was announced on Saturday.
On Monday, heads of several local Arab councils protested outside the headquarters of the Israeli Finance Ministry in Jerusalem. They were joined by Arab members of the Israeli Knesset.
The coronavirus pandemic in Israel has severely affected the economy, with more than a million people now unemployed and local councils seeing drastic cuts in their income.
Arab local councils are demanding an allocation of 70 million shekels ($20 million) a month from the Israeli government to fight off the effects of the pandemic.