The government of Israel establishes new development agency for Druze and Circassians

The cabinet Ministers of Israel approves the establishment of a socioeconomic development agency for Israel’s Druze and Circassian minorities.

The new agency will implement a previous cabinet decision that commits some NIS 2.4 billion ($620 million) toward development projects in towns and villages inhabited by the two communities.

Some 4,000 Circassians live in Israel, descendants of Sunni Muslims pushed out of the Caucasus region by Russia in the 19th century. There are over 130,000 Druze in Israel. They are an Arabic-speaking community with their own distinct monotheistic religion living mainly in the Galilee.

Both communities serve in the IDF alongside Jewish Israelis, and both complain about the lack of investment in their villages and towns.

Deputy Minister for Regional Cooperation Ayoub Kara, himself a Druze, notes in the cabinet meeting that all other recognized minorities already have similar agencies coordinating government investment in infrastructure, education and welfare in their communities.

He accuses past Israeli governments of “negligence.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seems to agree, telling ministers at the cabinet meeting that the new agency “corrects a great injustice done to the Druze and Circassians.”