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Discrimination, division and demolitions: Life as a Palestinian citizen of Israel

13 19 0
18.05.2019

Palestinian citizens of Israel – who number around 1.8 million people and amount to just over 20 per cent of Israel’s population – are often ignored by the broader Palestinian narrative. Although unlike their compatriots in the occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip, Palestinian citizens of Israel do not live under a formal military occupation, their lives are not without struggle. The community is discriminated against on a daily basis, denied equal access to resources, opportunities, political rights and housing.

So what does daily life look like for Palestinian citizens of Israel? Here are nine things you should know.

This article is part of our series on Eurovision 2019. See more here.

Most Palestinian citizens of Israel descend from those Palestinians who were not expelled outside the nascent state of Israel during the Nakba of 1948. This is not to say they were not displaced; many were forcibly driven from their ancestral villages into neighbouring population centres. Yet unlike their compatriots who found themselves in what was then the Jordanian West Bank, the Egyptian-controlled Gaza Strip or neighbouring Lebanon and Syria, these Palestinians were granted citizenship in the new Israeli state.

Today, the Palestinian narrative is repressed within Israel, which refers to 1948 as its War of Independence. Despite the fact that some NGOs such as Zochrot have worked to redress this erasure of Palestinian history running visits to depopulated villages which have since been covered over by national parks, forestation projects or purpose-built towns, discussions of the Nakba in schools, the public sphere or media are limited.

Israel has also sought to quash events commemorating the Nakba. In 2017, it banned the annual march held by Palestinian citizens of Israel on 15 May to remember the plight of their ancestors, and in August last year debated a bill which would see anyone carrying the Palestinian flag imprisoned.

This repression is compounded by the fact that, unlike other Palestinians who are prevented from travelling to Israel, Palestinian citizens of Israel often live mere miles from the ancestral homes to which they are barred from returning. Some Palestinian citizens of Israel have decided to reclaim their homes, for example the descendants of those expelled from the northern villages of Iqrit and Bir’im, who return annually to the village ruins.

READ: Netanyahu’s son mocked after claiming Palestine never existed

Palestinian citizens cannot live wherever they like. In 2016, only four per cent of real estate was marketed to Palestinian citizens of Israel, with Jewish-Israelis often reluctant for their town to become “mixed”. As a result, many Palestinian citizens live in Arab-dominated towns like Nazareth, Umm Al-Fahm and Tayibe.

These towns are granted fewer resources than........

© Middle East Monitor