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The Israeli Arabs and a Palestinian State

Haggai Huberman
Policy Paper No. 65, from the book,
Israel and a Palestinian State: Zero Sum Game?, 2001


The question of Israeli Arab loyalty to the State of Israel began with the establishment of the Jewish state. It is not merely a theoretical question, as this issue has far-reaching practical ramifications, especially as it relates to the political arena. The "Jewish majority" question was raised more vigorously during the reign of the left-wing government from 1992-1996 as a result of extensive political processes initiated by the Israeli government establishment of an independent Palestinian Authority in Judea and Samaria, withdrawal from sections of the Land of Israel, and laying the foundation for the establishment of a Palestinian state while relying on the votes of Arab Members of Knesset.

Since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, the ties between the Arabs of Judea, Samaria and Gaza and the "Green Line Arabs" have grown gradually closer. The State of Israel is witnessing an accelerated process of "Palestinization" among Israeli Arabs, who are referred to in the Arab media as "the Palestinians within the Green Line", and is impotent to act against it. We are facing a dangerous trend, which Israel's Jewish population, for some reason, relates to with equanimity. In the last year, more and more facts have come to light, which prove the extent of terrorist cooperation between the two sides of the Green Line.

The defense establishment is troubled by the fact that in case of a violent confrontation between IDF and Palestinian forces, Israeli Arabs, who have already experienced an internal intifada, are liable to mobilize in support of the Palestinians and perpetrate murderous terrorist attacks. Furthermore there are increasing numbers of visits by Israeli Arabs into the area of the Palestinian Authority, and especially of the steady exchange of delegations between the two populations. The Palestinian media are filled with detailed and supportive reports about these visits and meetings. Part of the Israeli Arab identification with the Palestinian Authority came to bear in demonstrations of identity with problems troubling the Palestinians assemblies which became progressively more common on the streets of Arab cities and villages in Israel, such as those after the signing of the Wye agreements, when the streets of Judea and Samaria were shaken with riots referred to as the "prisoners' intifada" (with the demand to free terrorist murderers from Israeli jails in the context of the agreement). The standard bearers of the Palestinization trend among Israeli Arabs are first and foremost, the Israeli Arab Knesset members, who pledged allegiance to the State of Israel, and display allegiance to its enemies instead.

The ties binding the two sides of the Green Line begin at childhood. For example, the field trips organized by schools in the Galilee and the Triangle to the Palestinian Authority, for joint activities with children of similar ages. The reciprocal youth program is called "Children Without Borders" befitting a trend whose purpose is to erase the Green Line. But also the phenomenon of ever-tightening relations is the result of marital ties. Matchmaking ads often appear in the Palestinian press saying: "Palestinian from a good home is looking for a bride for the purposes of a blue marriage." A blue marriage means a bride with a blue, Israeli identity card. This creates a new problem that of Israeli citizens residing in the autonomous areas. Interestingly, the Palestinian security forces are very involved in this matter. Over the last two years, the frequency of Palestinian officers marrying Israeli Arabs usually relatives has increased. This phenomenon has aroused much concern in the Israeli defense establishment, though it can do nothing to change the situation.

In Arab schools the tendency towards learning Arab history at the expense of Israeli history is becoming more prevalent. This is a steadily strengthening trend. What they do not learn in school, they are taught in supplementary education courses in the mosques. A most negative form of collaboration on both sides of the Green Line is transpiring in the criminal realm especially car thefts.

It apparently will not be long until the Israeli government regardless of which ideology is in power will be forced to confront Israeli Arabs with the stark choice complete loyalty to their country, with all of its ramifications pertaining to the severing of ties with their Palestinian brethren, or drawing the necessary conclusions based on their loyalty to the Palestinian government.

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