Israel's "Apartheid Policy" toward Palestinian Citizens

By Lehman, Wendy | Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, December 31, 2000 | Go to article overview

Israel's "Apartheid Policy" toward Palestinian Citizens


Lehman, Wendy, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs


ISRAEL'S "APARTHEID POLICY" TOWARD PALESTINIAN CITIZENS

Arab Israelis are the "forgotten piece' of the Palestinian people," said Basel Ghattas at an Oct. 5 briefing at the Center for Policy Analysis on Palestine in Washington, DC. Ghattas, general director of the Galilee Society and an Arab Israeli, referred to the tensions Arabs in Israel face because of the dual identity inherent in being Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, and the discrimination they encounter because they are not Jewish.

As Palestinians, they are viewed as "a major security concern" rather than as regular citizens, and they do not receive the same benefits as Jewish Israelis. They face a higher unemployment rate, lower socioeconomic status, and lower levels of education than their Jewish counterparts. Yet, when their vote is needed, they are seen as Israeli citizens.

Arab Israelis gave Prime Minister Ehud Barak 95 percent of their votes, which, considering how little Barak has given them, was "unbelievable," according to Ghattas. Moreover, the Labor Party has needed the Arab vote to support them in the Oslo process, even though the negotiations do not always favor Arab Israelis, and in fact may make their situation worse. For example, there have been proposals to swap land in Israel for land in the occupied territories as part of a peace deal. Although this essentially would involve transferring Arab Israelis--and their land--to the Palestinian Authority (PA), they have not been consulted. Is there any other country that negotiates its citizens away? Ghattas asked. In addition, if Israel returns the Golan Heights to Syria as part of a peace deal, the 17,000 Israeli settlers from the Golan will have to be reintegrated into Israel. Likely, said Ghattas, they would be resettled on Arab land.

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