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Cablegate: Israeli-Arab Leaders Call Israel Home, but Want

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

1. (SBU) Summary: Israeli-Arab speakers at an October 20
roundtable with the diplomatic community underscored their
solidarity with West Bank and Gazan Palestinians, but
stressed that most Israeli Arabs would prefer to remain in
Israel -- but with equal rights -- rather than join any
future Palestinian state. Referring to Israeli Arabs as
"Palestinian citizens of Israel," the speakers discussed
socio-economic and legal inequities between the Israeli-Arab
and the Israeli-Jewish populations and criticized a
right-wing Jewish proposal for the eventual transfer of
Israeli-Arab towns bordering the West Bank to a future
Palestinian entity. Although they represented various
political parties, all the speakers similarly called on the
diplomatic community to raise the problem of discrimination
against Israeli Arabs with GOI officials as well as to call
for more equitable resource allocations to that sector. End

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Mossawa Paints a Grim Picture of Discrimination
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2. (SBU) Representatives of the NGO Mossawa provided the
backdrop to a roundtable discussion October 20 between
members of the diplomatic corps and leaders of the
Israeli-Arab community by presenting examples and data on the
various forms of discrimination against Israeli Arabs,
including laws and resource allocations that favor the Jewish
community. According to an October 2005 Mossawa publication
distributed at the roundtable, the GOI discriminates against
Israeli Arabs in the areas of education, land and housing
allocation, access to health care, level of income, and
hostile treatment by Israel's security forces. Mossawa gave
the following examples of social and economic gaps between
Israeli Arabs and Jews:

-- Only five percent of the national development budget has
gone to the Arab sector, which comprises 20 percent of the

-- In 2003, 48 percent of Arab families lived below the
poverty line, as compared to 15 percent of Jewish families.

-- The average monthly income in 2004 for Israeli Arabs was
63 percent of the average income for Jewish citizens.

-- Arab women and the Bedouin populations are the most
vulnerable sectors of the Arab population, with some 76,000
Bedouin living in so-called "unrecognized" villages without
infrastructure and services. Arab women, Mossawa underlined,
also face violence within their community, and are more
likely than Arab men and Jewish women not to attend school.

We Are the "Authentic Minority" of Israel

3. (SBU) After the Mossawa presentation, four MKs
representing the Israeli-Arab parties Hadash (Communist
Party), Balad (National Democratic Assembly), and United Arab
list (Arab Democratic Party and Islamic Southern Movement),
and Sheikh Kamal Khatib, Deputy Director of the Northern
Islamic Movement (more radical of the two Islamic Movements),
made similar comments as follows:

-- Israeli Arabs are the "authentic" or indigenous minority
of Israel and should be recognized as such rather than
compared to other minorities such as various immigrant
groups. Sheikh Kamel Khatib stressed that the Israeli Arabs
are not "guests" in Israel, but rather the "original owners"
of the land.

-- Israeli Arabs prefer to be referred to as "Palestinians
with Israeli citizenship," reflecting their common roots and
solidarity with the Palestinians of the West Bank and the
Gaza Strip.

-- The majority of Israeli Arabs want to remain within
Israel, which they perceive as their historical homeland,
rather than move to any future Palestinian state. As
Nazareth Mayor Ramez Jaraisy stressed, "...even after any
creation of a Palestinian state," Israeli Arabs "will
continue being citizens of Israel... and continue struggling
for national equality."

-- Israeli Arabs feel alienated from the definition of Israel
as a Jewish state and from the national symbols of Israel,
which they believe refer to the Jewish nature of the state
and the overall dominant status of Israeli Jews.

-- A dangerous trend has occurred in the last few years,
where right-wing politicians have become more brazen in
advocating that Israeli Arabs be encouraged to emigrate to
any new Palestinian entity.

-- Israeli Arabs want to and can play a special role in the
peace process between Israel and Palestinians in the West
Bank and the Gaza Strip.

-- Any constitution for Israel, on which a Knesset
subcommittee is currently working, must include provisions
ensuring the protection of minority rights, with special
focus on the rights of the "indigenous minority."

Appeal to Diplomatic Community

4. (SBU) The speakers asked that the European Union and the
USG press the GOI to address institutional and societal
discrimination against the Israeli-Arab community, including
what they referred to as "racist" incitement against Israeli
Arabs in society as a whole and by Israeli-Jewish
politicians. MK Ahmed Tibi underscored that support from the
international community for Israeli Arabs "is crucial,"
asserting that the international community should be
supporting all Israelis, "not just its Jewish citizens." He
called on the EU and the USG to raise concerns over
discrimination against Israeli-Arabs with GOI officials and
to support the establishment of a university in Nazareth and
a hospital in an Israeli-Arab city.

5. (SBU) Various speakers also appealed to the USG and EU to
pressure the GOI to provide more equitable resource
allocation to the Arab community. MK Jamal Zahalka (Balad)
asked that the EU "put conditions" on cultural and economic
agreements with Israel to require that the GOI increase
resource allocation to the Israeli-Arab sector. He also
asked that the EU and USG provide more scholarship
opportunities for Israeli-Arab students to study in their

********************************************* ********************
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You can also access this site through the State Department's
Classified SIPRNET website.
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