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Israel: Smotrich freezes grants for Arab municipalities

August 7, 2023 at 9:10 am

Israel’s Finance minister Bezalel Smotrich speaks during a parliament (Knesset) meeting in Jerusalem on July 10, 2023 [MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP via Getty Images]

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich has frozen grants planned for Arab municipalities in the apartheid state, Kan public broadcaster reported on Sunday. The amount frozen is NIS 200 million ($55m) set by the previous Israeli government for economic development.

Interior Minister Moshe Arbel from Shas party warned of negative consequences if the grant was not transferred to Arab local authorities.

Far-right Smotrich told Kan that he is “reconsidering” the transfer of funds as he weighs his “priorities” for the funding and the “supervision mechanisms” in place. He added that the current government is “not beholden” to a promise made by former Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked to Ra’am party chief Mansour Abbas.

At the same time, the far-right extremist minister blocked funds intended for a preparatory course to integrate East Jerusalem residents into Israeli universities. Kan reported Smotrich as saying that integrating them has led to “nationalism and extremism.”

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