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Cablegate: Israel's Arab Sector

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.



E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: A. 04 TEL AVIV 0874
B. 04 TEL AVIV 3085
C. 03 TEL AVIV 7247

1. (U) SUMMARY: Israel's Arab population significantly lags
behind the Jewish population in income, level of education,
level of health care, and employment rate. This message
provides an overview of the vital economic statistics of the
Israeli-Arab sector, which comprises approximately 20 percent
of Israel's total population. Public and private reports
highlight the disparity between the Arab and Jewish sectors.
For example, one 2003 report states that the average salary
for an Israeli-Arab employee was 30 percent lower than that
of a Jewish employee. A 2004 report indicates that of all
families living in poverty, 31.1 percent were Israeli Arabs
and 68.7 percent were Israeli Jews. In addition,
Israeli-Arab students who were accepted to university in
academic year 2002-2003 accounted for 2,200 out of 23,000
students. END SUMMARY.

Israeli-Arab Population

2. (U) According to the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS),
as of May 2005, Israeli Arabs including the Druze, Bedouin
and Christian minorities, constitute approximately 20 percent
of the Israeli population, numbering 1.35 million people.
Israeli Arabs live mostly in mixed cities in the north
(Galilee), with the Bedouin minority concentrated in the
south (Negev).

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3. (U) According to CBS reports, of the entire Israeli-Arab
population, 1.1 million are Muslim, who predominantly live in
the following areas: North - 422,700, Haifa - 154,400, Center
- 122,600, Tel Aviv/Jaffa - 12,000, Jerusalem - 224,600,
South - 136,200. CBS estimates that the Israeli-Arab
population will increase to two million by 2025. CBS also
reports that the Druze population, located in the north
(Golan, Akko) and Haifa, numbers some 113,000 and accounts
for 8.6 percent of the Israeli-Arab population. CBS
estimates the Druze population will increase to 165,000 by
2025 (Ref A).

4. (U) The Bedouin population is more than 150,000, with most
living in recognized and unrecognized villages scattered
across the Negev. The socio-economic condition of the
Bedouin is below that of the rest of the Israeli-Arab
community. Unemployment, lack of infrastructure, and land
disputes with the GOI place this group, whose population is
increasing at a fast rate in a vulnerable position (Ref B).


5. (U) According to CBS, in 2003, 60.8 percent of Muslim men
in the Israeli-Arab community were employed. Arab-Christian
employment is at 65.6 percent, and 48.9 percent for Druze
men. The 2004 Bank of Israel Report also touches on
Israeli-Arab employment, estimating that the Israeli-Arab
participation in the labor force has decreased, even as the
Jewish employment rate has increased in recent years. Data
from 1995 show that Israeli-Arab participation in the labor
sector was 42.6 percent; by 2003 it decreased to 39.1 percent
(Ref C).

6. (U) Note: An embassy contact from the Advancement Center
for Social Justice and Equality, an Israeli NGO, said that
income support for Israeli-Arab men comes from multiple
sources. He said GOI support include allowances, guaranteed
income and unemployment benefits for unemployed Israeli-Arab
men. Post contact remarked that Israeli-Arab men are the
largest group actively looking for work, but have a hard time
finding jobs and are in a state of "despair." An
Israeli-Arab contact indicated that there is an unofficial
social support network within economically depressed
Israeli-Arab communities, where one family extends a helping
hand to another family, or mosques provide food to needy
families. The Israeli-Arab contact said that some families
also engage in small informal employment in agriculture and
small business trade and do not report income to the GOI.
Employee income from these family enterprises do not show up
in CBS data. End Note

7. (U) CBS states that Israeli Arabs earn less than their
Jewish counterparts; however, salaries have been steadily
increasing for both groups. Sikkuy (Israeli NGO) reports in
a recent research paper that the national average monthly
salary in 2002 was NIS 7,570 (USD 1,682), with wages in the
Arab sector at NIS 5,243 (USD 1,165), 31 percent lower than
the national average.

8. (U) National Insurance Institute 2004 data show that
Israeli-Arab families represent 31.1 percent of families
living in poverty in Israel. 49.9 percent of Israeli Arabs
live in poverty compared to 15.9 percent of Israeli Jews.
According to Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor (MOIT)
statistics from 2005, the Bedouin community's employment rate
stands at 36 percent, while that of Jewish communities
located in the Negev stands at 61 percent. According to the
report, this gap exists in large part because only 11 percent
of Bedouin women are working. The MOIT attributed this lack
of participation in the work force to cultural norms in the
Bedouin community.


9. (U) In recent meetings, Israeli-Arab community leaders
have asserted to econoff that Israeli-Arab students on
average do not do well compared to their Jewish counterparts,
especially in the Bedouin community. CBS reported that in
2003, 11.5 percent of the Israeli Arab sector entered
university studies, compared to 21.5 percent in the Jewish

10. (U) A 2002-2003 report by the Mossawa Advocacy Center for
Arab Citizens of Israel claims that 15.1 percent of Israeli
Arabs applied for acceptance into a university course of
instruction leading to a degree, compared to 81 percent of
Jewish students. Only 9.8 percent of Israeli Arabs are
accepted into a university. Out of the Arab student
population only 9.5 percent received their bachelor's degree,
4.8 percent received their master's degree, and 3.2 percent
received a Ph.D. As for participation in the major
universities, Israeli-Arab students make up 27.4 percent of
students at Haifa University, 11.8 percent at Tel Aviv
University, and 9 percent at Hebrew University.


11. (U) According to the Ministry of Health, infant mortality
in the Israeli-Arab sector is higher than for the Jewish
community. The Ministry reports that there are nine deaths
per 1,000 births in the Arab community, compared to one death
per 1,000 births in the Jewish community. Among the Bedouin
it is around 17 deaths per 1,000 births.

12. (U) In a recent article, the Ministry of Health's
National Center for Disease Control claimed that the health
gap between the Arab and Jewish community continues to widen.
The article claims that ministry data from 2003 show that
Arab men live 3.4 years, and Arab women four years, less on
average than their Jewish counterparts. The article also
acknowledges that although the gaps between the sectors have
grown over the past decade, there was also a general increase
in longevity; a drop in infant mortality; and a drop in
cancer, heart disease, and strokes in the Arab sector.

********************************************* ********************
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