Netanyahu to work with Arab MKs to ‘eradicate the criminal scourge,’ amid spike in slayings

After 91 Arab-Israelis murdered since beginning of 2023, Netanyahu pledges to invest in infrastructure, social resource to ‘close gaps’ in crime-ridden communities.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Arab-Israeli politicians and promised to provide them with resources to help manage high crime rates in the Arab community, which have seen 91 people murdered so far in 2023.

“We’re not going to agree on political issues – that’s not going to happen,” Netanyahu told the lawmakers, as heard in a recording of the closed-door meeting released to Hebrew-language media.

“We do agree on the heart of the issue, on the social needs, on the infrastructure we need to provide [to Arab communities] and on other things we need to close the gap on.”

Netanyahu said that he wanted to “go out into the field” and “visit the families” of murder victims, but that he has been informed that he would be unwelcome.

“Every time, I was told there’s always some reason or another why I shouldn’t come,” he said.

The Arab-Israeli Hadash-Ta’al party presented Netanyahu with a framework for battling crime in the Arab community.

Netanyahu promised to appoint a special czar whose sole responsibility would be to address the issue.

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“We need to put politics to the side, get rid of divisions and work together to eradicate the criminal scourge,” he said, according to a transcript of his remarks released by the Prime Minister’s Office.

Murders and extortion have been rampant in Arab cities and towns for years, with National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir recently pledging to crack down on the phenomenon and restore law and order to crime-ridden communities.

In recent months, organized crime families have carried out assassinations on their rivals in broad daylight. Family feuds escalating to murder and honor killings are also plaguing Arab municipalities throughout Israel.

Less than 30 percent of murders involving Arab victims are solved. Arab activists and politicians blame police disinterest, while the authorities cite witnesses’ refusal to cooperate with police or testify in the court as the reason for the cases remaining unsolved.