Arab Municipal Workers Strike to Protest Financial Crisis

Israeli Arabs began a mass civil disobedience campaign this week to dramatize the mounting financial crisis in their municipalities, which they claim the government has failed to redress.

The Arab municipalities estimate a budget deficit of $16 million. Most have not paid salaries for two months and they cannot meet their bills.

Some 46 municipalities have gone on strike. Arab mayors and municipal employees plan to go to Jerusalem Wednesday to hand in their keys at the offices of the Interior Ministry. Arab schools are expected to shut down Wednesday as part of the protest.

Ibrahim Nimer Hussein, chairman of the Arab Mayors Committee, said the prime minister and other ministers have promised repeatedly in the past year to help meet the pressing needs of the Arab population. “But they have failed to do so because they treat us like second-class citizens,” Hussein charged.

Government officials admit the Arab townships are entitled to aid and said they would receive it “within a matter of days.” But according to Hussein, the mayors no longer believe the promises of the ministers and officials.

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