Jordanian Ambassador Lends Voice to Palestinian Arabs Living in Israel

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JORDANIAN AMBASSADOR LENDS VOICE TO PALESTINIAN ARABS LIVING IN ISRAEL

Jordanian Ambassador to the U.S. Jamil Marwan Al-Muasher, who was Jordan's first ambassador to Israel, examined the status of Palestinian citizens of Israel Aug. 12 at the Center for Policy Analysis on Palestine.

"First, don't refer to them as `Arab Israelis,' `Israeli Arabs,' or `1948 Arabs,'" began Al-Muasher. "They lived on the land long before 1948 and prefer to be called `Arabs living in Israel,' or `Palestinian Arabs living in Israel.'"

Most live in the hinterlands, Ambassador Al-Muasher said, with no more than 15 percent residing in coastal areas, testament to the efficiency of Israel's expulsion of them in 1948. Today, their largest concentration is in Nazareth, home to more than 60,000.

Israeli Palestinians have made civil liberties their particular concern, but their loyalty to the small Arab parties in Israel is not a given. In the 1992 elections, one half voted for Arab parties, while the other half voted for Israeli Jewish parties.

As their numbers -- and votes -- grow, the number of Arab members of the Knesset has increased from 8 in 1992 to 11 in 1996. Statistics also show that in times of turmoil, Palestinian Arabs turn out to vote in greater numbers. Although in 1992 only 69 percent of Palestinian Arabs voted, in Israel's 1996 election 81 percent voted. …