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In recent years, levels of crime and violence in Arab society have significantly worsened. In response, the Israeli government has taken a number of steps, including the passage of government resolutions intended to address the problem. The most important resolution – Government Resolution 549 – was adopted in October 2021 during the tenure of the thirty sixth government. The resolution outlines a five-year plan, including numerous actions, programs, and long-term commitments by several government ministries. Several mechanisms were also established for the integration and supervision of the plan.

The five-year plan will soon pass its half-way mark. This report, which forms part of a monitoring project of the Abraham Initiatives and the Citizens’ Empowerment Center, details the progress that has been made in implementing the various components of the plan. The report begins with background information on the phenomena of crime and violence in Arab society and on the decisions that led to Government Resolution 549. This is followed by a methodology chapter and a findings chapter, summarizing the government’s progress in implementing the components of the Resolution according to the responsible ministry or governmental authority. The concluding chapter presents insights, obstacles and enabling factors for the Resolution, as well as recommendations based on those insights. The report also includes a table detailing all the operative components of the resolution and the current level of implementation, based on reports received from the Prime Minister’s Office, which collects data from the various ministries.

The implementation and execution data for the components of the resolution reflect partial implementation.

Obstacles

In some areas, real progress has been made and the original objectives have been met. In many others, however, there has been no progress, or inadequate progress given that half of the period of the five-year plan has already passed. No reports were received for some of the components, and in general it appears that some government ministries are not ensuring ongoing reporting. This behavior reflects defective functioning by these ministries and poses an obstacle to the implementation of the resolution. This problem also manifests itself in lack of coordination, synchronization and cooperation between the various government agencies involved in the resolution, and the inadequate frequency of their meetings.

Another obstacle to the implementation of the government resolution is the difficulty in recruiting staff for implementation. Government ministries and local authorities are finding it difficult to recruit social workers, police officers, investigators, and other functions, and many staff positions allotted for the implementation of the resolution have simply not been filled. This makes it extremely difficult to make progress in the programs and to achieve the defined objectives. A third obstacle to implementation of the various sections of the resolution regards the functioning of Arab local authorities. Cooperation between government ministries and these authorities is insufficient, and in some instances the local authorities are not in themselves functioning at the required level. This is a recurring issue that policy planners must address in advance to remove specific obstacles in the local authorities.
A further impediment to implementation is frequent policy changes due to the political instability in Israel in recent years and the change of governments, and the state of emergency following the October 7, 2023, attacks and subsequent war. Even though governments are legally bound to the resolutions of their predecessors, the extent and manner of their implementation are affected by changes in government policy as well as changes in priorities and allocation of resources. Additionally, the prioritization of an issue by the government affects the ability of civil servants to implement the government’s resolutions, principally by providing tools and authorities and removing obstacles. When elected officials see importance in a government’s resolution or plan, it prioritizes them and makes sure they are sufficiently budgeted. In the case of Resolution 549, there is evidence that the current government has not sufficiently prioritized its implementation.

Enabling Factors

By reviewing the government’s progress, it is also possible to learn about enabling factors, which contribute to the advancement of the resolution. One enabling factor for the implementation of Resolution 549 lies in the fact that it was adopted through a professional process that brought together forces from within Arab society in Israel and its leaders, including the Committee of Heads of Arab Local Authorities, alongside civil society organizations, educators, and researchers from Arab society. The collaborative work with Arab society – rather than working “above its head” – is very important in terms of creating trust and ensuring programs based on the resolution function effectively on the ground.

Given the implementation status of the government resolution so far, and the obstacles and enablers we identified, the following are the recommendations of the Abraham Initiatives. Implementing these recommendations is important to guarantee the effective and full execution of the resolution during the remaining period:

  1. Adequate staffing: Dedicated training for diverse functions where there is a shortage of personnel. There are currently unutilized budgeted funds due to the difficulty in recruiting staff.
  2. Reforming and enhancing the efficiency of management, monitoring, and control systems for the Government Resolution: All the officials involved in implementing the resolution should meet regularly to ensure more orderly, professional, and reliable reporting. To this end, officials responsible for integration should be given binding powers, enabling them to require government ministries to present a report on the implementation of the program components for which they are responsible.
  3. Ensuring transparency: Government ministries should provide the general public with consistent and transparent reports on their actions and the level of compliance with the targets. Regarding programs and government resolutions intended to serve Arab society, particularly in combating crime and violence, publications should be adapted to the target population and appear in Arabic. Transparent and reliable reporting is a means for enhancing the sense of trust, involvement, and partnership with communities.
  4. Conducting accompanying studies of the resolution components: To gain a deeper understanding of the impact of the resolution, its components should be evaluated. This will identify the achievements of the resolution and offer insights for similar programs in the future.
  5. Enacting legislation: The government should act to promote all the bills concerning Resolution 549 and should consider additional legislative amendments to enhance enforcement, solve crimes, and strengthen the struggle against criminal organizations operating in Arab society.
  6. Changing the government’s approach: The Israeli government must place the struggle against crime and violence one of its strategic goals, expand the variety of tools at its disposal to do it, and act to implement the components of Resolution 549 as soon as possible in order to protect human life.

 

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