Israel to invest $500 million in Druze, Circassian communities


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s Cabinet approved a more than $500 million plan to develop Druze and Circassian communities.

The five-year plan approved Sunday follows a previous plan that lasted from 2011 to 2014.

The first half of the new plan was approved in December.

Under the plan, the Israeli government will invest significant resources in the Druze and  Circassian communities in education, social welfare, employment, tourism, transportation and planning budgets.

“You represent an entire public that fights and sacrifices for the State of Israel,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. “I think that this is not only a duty but a privilege to allocate government resources in order to help this public, especially the young people, so that they might have a better future in their communities and in the country.

“In my visits to the villages, in the meeting that we had there last year with community leaders, I was struck by the gap that had been created and which we need to close.”

About 140,000 Druze and Circassians live in Israel. Sixteen villages are included in the plan.

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