Finance Minister’s Refusal To Budget for Arab Municipalities: Racist and Illegal Decision

>> Read the full Position Paper 


This position paper was written in the wake of Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich’s decision not to transfer to the Arab municipalities a total of NIS 314 million in state budget funds, contrary to the position of the professional echelons in the Finance and Interior Ministries and of Interior Minister Moshe Arbel.

While not explicitly enshrined in a Basic Law but recognized as a fundamental right derived from Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty, the right to equality as it pertains to state budget allocations is anchored both in ordinary laws and in a plethora of Supreme Court rulings. The obligation to allocate state funds equitably is stipulated in, among others, Article 3a of the Budget Foundations Law-1985, which states that these will only be doled out “based on criteria of equality.” Ruling on a petition to cancel the designation of national priority areas for budgetary purposes, the Supreme Court reiterated the government’s duty to conduct itself equally toward Israel’s Jewish and non-Jewish citizens and affirmed that this duty is one of the foundations that make Israel a Jewish and democratic state.

Zulat’s position is that this is a racist and downright illegal decision. Its factual basis is a conspiracy theory advanced by the Right during the Bennett-Lapid government combined with the racist position and political needs of Smotrich and fellow government ministers. It suits the political needs of the coalition parties ahead of the upcoming municipal elections and befits authoritarian regimes that deny minority human rights, use divide-and-rule practices, and blame their failures on minorities. It is an illegal decision given that the law does not authorize the Finance Minister to create a separate mechanism for the Arab municipalities but only to set general criteria/oversight for all municipalities in the country. This is the first time that a government minister has acted on the repeal of the reasonableness standard, which illustrates the danger that the regime revolution would pose upon its finalization.



Dr. Maha Sabbah Karkabi


Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from Tel Aviv University (2015), a postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for Gender Studies, SOAS, University of London (2015-2016), a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Sociology at Tel Aviv University (2016-2017), and a postdoctoral fellowship Ph.D. at the Humphrey Institute for Social Research, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (2018-2020).
Dr. Maha Karbahi’s areas of interest focus on the connection between social change, family behavior, and gender inequality in societies in the process of change and specifically in Palestinian Arab society in Israel. Her research draws attention to the study of family life and employment, using a combined “ethnic lens” and “gender lens” and paying attention to the perspective of Palestinian Arab women, a group characterized by intersections between multiple marginal locations, which over the years has remained hidden from the research eye. Dr. Karkabi-Sabah’s research is published in professional journals and chapters in scientific books that are considered pioneers in family research, work, and gender equality.


Prof. Frances Raday

Professor Emeritus in the Lieberman Chair in Labor Law, in the Faculty of Law at the Hebrew University and serves as a full professor in the College of Management’s academic track, where she also serves as chair of the graduate program and as honorary president of the Concord Center for International Law Absorption. Radai was a member of a working group of the UN Human Rights Council on discrimination against women. In addition, she is a prominent and feminist human rights activist.


Dr. Rawia Aburabia 

Faculty member of Sapir Academic College’s School of Law, received her PhD from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her research deals with the interface between law, gender, minorities, and human rights. Has published in leading journals on the subject of the matrimonial laws pertaining to Muslim women in Israel. Her book Under the Law, Outside Justice: Polygamy, Gendered Citizenship, and Colonialism in Israeli Law is expected to be published as part of the Gender Series of Kibbutz Meuhad Publishing House.

Dr. Aburabia has extensive experience in international human rights and public law. She has worked as a jurist for the Association for Civil Right and has been invited as a specialist to address such international forums as the United Nations and the European Parliament on the subject of indigenous communities and minority rights. She has interned with Human Rights Watch in Washington DC, and has been a member of the executive board of Amnesty International. In 2018, she was selected by the magazine Globes as one of the 40 most promising young persons in Israel under the age of 40.



Ron Kessler

With over two decades of experience in the field of digital content, Ron has participated in numerous political and social campaigns. He helped run the digital activity of senior public officials, and worked in various NGOs. Ron is a fundamentally optimistic man, who believes that Israel can be changed and so can people. Lives in Tel Aviv.