Government approves affirmative action in civil service

Government offices will be encouraged to recruit staff from ethnic minorities, especially Arabs.

With two weeks left to the general election, the government has initiated a policy of constructive discrimination which will aim to recruit Arabs and members of other ethnic minorities to government ministries and the civil service.

At their meeting ministers approved acting Prime Minister and Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor Ehud Olmert’s proposal to provide government offices with incentives that will encourage them to recruit staff from ethnic minorities, especially Arabs. Under Olmert’s proposal, the Ministry of Finance will budget for an additional post for a Jewish employee, for every new Arab recruit. The proposal comprises one component in a comprehensive and wide ranging proposal drawn up by Olmert to improve the status of Israeli Arabs, disabled people and Ethiopian immigrants.

At today’s cabinet meeting, ministers discussed several constructive discrimination proposals that would address discrimination in three population sectors, Arabs, disabled persons and Ethiopian immigrants, which are inadequately represented in the ranks of government employees. Under the proposal, number of Arab staff in the public sector would be increased by 10%, while disabled persons and Ethiopian immigrants would be allocated an additional 40 jobs each.

According to the data presented to ministers, almost 90% of the Arab population lives today in settlements ranked in the bottom thirtieth of the socio-economic scale. Almost 50% of Arab families are below the poverty level, and Arab workers account for only 4% of the total number of ministerial employees and 8% of the entire public sector, including auxiliary nursing positions in state hospitals.

Last week, it will be recalled, Attorney General Menachem (Meni) Mazuz advised the government to avoid introducing reforms or making decisions that would affect budgetary priorities, prior to the general election while a transitional government was in office.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes.co.il - on March 12, 2006

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