IF YOU HAPPEN TO BE BORN TO A JEWISH MOTHER almost anywhere in the world, you automatically gain the right to Israeli citizenship. You are entitled to immigrate to and settle in Israel with the aid and assistance of the state.1 An almost sacred law in Israel, the Law of Return, guarantees you this. If you are born to non-Jewish parents in Israel, then your citizenship is regulated by a different set of laws. In order to be a citizen, one of your non-Jewish parents must be an Israeli citizen. If you are unlucky enough to have a Palestinian parent from the Occupied Territories, your chances of getting Israeli citizenship are close to zero.
For Palestinians in Israel, citizenship is “a conditional privilege to be conferred by the state.”2 Because the state represents the Jewish collective, all Palestinians are considered essentially alien; their rights to citizenship or equality are not rights at all—in the sense of rights present at birth.3 Rather, they are contingent privileges to be potentially partially dispensed (or withheld) by the state, based on its satisfaction that individual Palestinians have fulfilled particular conditions, usually service in the military or security apparatus.
There are dozens of Bedouins in the southern Naqab region who are not considered Israeli citizens and remain stateless. Some of them