Palestinian citizens of Israel are those Palestinians who remained behind in what became the state of Israel following the Nakba (1947) when approximately 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes and land by Zionist forces in order to make way for a Jewish-majority state.
Today there are approximately 1.6 million Palestinian citizens of Israel (referred to as "Israeli Arabs"), making up about 20% of the population. They face widespread, systematic discrimination in virtually all aspects of life, dealing with everything from employment and housing to land ownership and family reunification rights.
The 2012 US State Department Country Report on Human Rights Practices for Israel and the Occupied Territories, released in April 2013, noted that Palestinian citizens of Israel suffer from "institutional and societal discrimination in particular in access to equal education and employment opportunities."
• Between 1948 (when Israel declared independence) and 1966, Palestinians living in Israel were granted no political rights and were subject to Israeli military rule.
• After 1966, they were granted the right to vote and other civil rights, but to this day they continue to suffer from widespread, systematic and institutionalised discrimination affecting everything from land ownership and employment opportunities to family reunification rights.
• There are more than 50 Israeli laws that discriminate against Palestinian citizens of Israel, rendering them second or third class citizens in their own homeland.
• 93% of the land in Israel is owned either by the state or by governmental agencies, such as the Jewish National Fund, that discriminate against non-Jews.
• More than 70 Palestinian villages and communities in Israel, some of which pre-date the establishment of the state, are unrecognised by the government, receive no services, and are not even listed on official maps.
• Since Israel's founding in 1948, more than 600 Jewish municipalities have been established, while not a single new Arab town or community has been recognised by the state.
• Israeli government resources are disproportionately directed to Jews and not to Arabs, one factor in causing the Palestinians of Israel to suffer the lowest living standards in Israeli society by all socio-economic indicators.
• Government funding for Arab schools is far below that of Jewish schools. According to data published in 2004, the government provides three times as much funding to Jewish students than it does to Arab students.
• The Nationality and Entry into Israel Law prevents Palestinians from the occupied territories who are married to Palestinian citizens of Israel from gaining residency or citizenship status. The law forces thousands of Palestinian citizens of Israel to either leave Israel or live apart from their families.
• In October 2010, the Knesset approved a bill allowing smaller Israeli towns to reject residents who do not suit "the community's fundamental outlook", based on sex, religion, and socioeconomic status. Critics slammed the move as an attempt to allow Jewish towns to keep Arabs and other non-Jews out.
• Former Israeli prime ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert have both warned that a continuation of the occupation will lead to Israel becoming an "apartheid" state.
• Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela, heroes of the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, have both compared Israel's treatment of Palestinians to apartheid.
• In September 2010, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, spiritual leader of the Shas party of which Benjamin Netanyahu belongs, declared that non-Jews were created to “serve” Jews, stating that: "Goyim [non-Jews] were born only to serve us. Without that, they have no place in the world - only to serve the People of Israel... Why are gentiles needed? They will work, they will plow, they will reap. We will sit like an effendi and eat. That is why gentiles were created.”
Every year since 1977 the United Nations has observed the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People on 29 November. EuroPal Forum invites you to a seminar on “the UN Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People: How to end 70 years of injustice?"