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How much damage will Israel’s Smotrich funding cut do to east Jerusalem, Arab towns?

Israeli politicians are accusing Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich of racism over his decision to end funding for higher education in east Jerusalem and his refusal to deliver development funds for Arab municipalities.
JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich is pushing full speed ahead this week with a cut in funding that was intended to encourage higher education among Palestinians living in east Jerusalem and another one targeting development funds intended for Arab towns across Israel. 

These special developments are ideologically linked and were routinely approved by the previous government. The latest cut in funding for higher education still needs cabinet approval, while the development funds for Arab towns blocked by the far-right minister do not. Smotrich targeted funds designed to help Arab towns and villages cope with long years of deficits in their budgets and decades of neglect by the state.

Smotrich's five-year plan for east Jerusalem higher education funding is set to be authorized by the Israeli cabinet on Wednesday. 

The two decisions sparked an uproar in Israel. Many fear that cutting education funds from east Jerusalem will leave young people with fewer options, making them more likely to turn to extremism. 

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