JERUSALEM – If given the option of living in a future Palestinian state, most Israeli Arabs would prefer to remain citizens of Israel, according to a new survey released this week.
Arabs make up about 20 percent of Israel's population, with a large concentration living in eastern Jerusalem, including in peripheral neighborhoods Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's government has stated could be given to the Palestinians for a future state.
Last month, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni hinted Israeli Arabs living in eastern Jerusalem could remain there and be ruled by a new Palestinian state.
"The future Palestinian state would serve as a national solution for the Palestinians of the West Bank, those living in the refugee camps and those who are citizens with equal rights in the Jewish state," stated Livni at a November press conference with France's foreign minister.
Why Israeli-Arabs Don’t Want to Live in a PA State?
Accounts of a two-week-long arrest under cruel conditions and humiliating tax collection practices are indications of the “quality of life” in the Palestinian Authority.
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) has issued a condemnation of two recent major human-rights abuses in the Palestinian Authority. One, a relatively minor incident, involved the sudden arrest and interrogation of a writer named Walid Ibrahim al-Hodali, 50, in Ramallah; he was interrogated about his political affiliations for an hour, but his computer was confiscated and not returned.
The second case involved the arrest of journalist Muhannad Salahat, a resident of both Jordan and the Palestinian Authority, on charges that were never explained to him. The representative of the Palestinian Society for Human Rights (RASED) in Jordan, Salahat said afterwards that his interrogators concentrated on a newspaper report he had prepared in 2007 "on the state of lawlessness and chaos in the West Bank and also Gaza following the Hamas takeover." He also said he was abused for criticizing the PA.
The conditions of his detention included, at various times, interrogations until the early morning hours, threats and insults, and not being allowed to wash or go to the bathroom, as well as no contact at all with a lawyer or family members. He was abruptly released after two weeks, only to find that information had been disseminated to the effect that his arrest was not of a political nature, but rather on criminal charges. Three days after his release, his computer was returned to him, with much information deleted, and he was prevented from traveling to Jordan.
PFLP: Hamas is Too Harsh
At the same time, in a separate incident, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), long notorious for its decades of terrorism and murder in its bid to achieve Arab independence in Israel – now complains that the Hamas government is too strict, levies unfairly high taxes, and acts in "baseless and humiliating ways."
Specifically, the PA’s Ma'an news agency reports that the PFLP condemns the Hamas-Gaza government’s harsh collection of unfair taxes. It accuses the Hamas government of seizing the homes and apartments of those living abroad and giving them to Hamas security officers.
The PFLP also said that despite all the hardships caused by the war of last winter – which Hamas often cites as a “humanitarian crisis” caused by Israel - falafel vendors and taxi drivers are being overcharged to keep their businesses running, and a new 60% tax on cigarettes has been imposed.
In addition, civilians are interrogated in "baseless and humiliating ways" regarding their incomes and taxes, and “strange taxes" have been imposed on the scales in vegetable and meat shops.
Majority of Israeli-Arabs Prefer Israel
A December 2007 survey showed that a majority (62%) of Arab citizens of Israel would prefer to remain Israeli citizens rather than become citizens of a future Palestinian state. Similarly, a poll conducted by Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government in June 2008 found that 77% of Israeli-Arabs would rather remain in their native land as Israeli citizens than in any other country in the world.
Israel National News