Bank of Israel: More devout Jews, Arabs must work

JERUSALEM (AP) — More Israeli Arabs and ultra-Orthodox Jews must join the work force to spur economic growth, Israel's central bank chief said Wednesday.

In his annual report, Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer said the government must help to make that happen. He called for better schooling to help the two fast-growing sectors enter the labor market.

Fischer said these sectors' low work participation "will have notable effects on the future growth rate, as well as on the scope of public expenditure and the ability to finance it."

Discrimination and substandard education have long limited economic opportunities for Israel's Arabs. Many ultra-Orthodox Jewish men opt for a life of religious study, don't work and live on state handouts instead. Together, the two sectors make up about 30 percent of Israel's population.

Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics released its 50-year population projection on Wednesday. It predicted that in the year 2059, Arabs and ultra-Orthodox Jews would make up a majority of Israel's population.

The central bank said Israel's economy grew 4.7 percent in 2011, though growth slowed in the second part of the year because of Europe's debt crisis.