The Future Vision of the Palestinian Arabs in Israel

Reference: Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel

The National Committee for the Heads of the Arab Local Authorities in Israel


We are the Palestinian Arabs in Israel, the indigenous peoples, the residents of
the States of Israel, and an integral part of the Palestinian People and the Arab
and Muslim and human Nation.

The war of 1948 resulted in the establishment of the Israeli state on a 78% of
historical Palestine. We found ourselves, those who have remained in their
homeland (approximately 160,000) within the borders of the Jewish state. Such
reality has isolated us from the rest of the Palestinian People and the Arab world
and we were forced to become citizens of Israel. This has transformed us into a
minority living in our historic homeland.

Since the Al-Nakba of 1948 (the Palestinian tragedy), we have been suffering
from extreme structural discrimination policies, national oppression, military
rule that lasted till 1966, land confiscation policy, unequal budget and resources
allocation, rights discrimination and threats of transfer. The State has also
abused and killed its own Arab citizens, as in the Kufr Qassem massacre, the
land day in 1976 and Al-Aqsa Intifada back in 2000.

Since Al-Nakba and despite all, we maintained our identity, culture, and national
affiliation; we struggled and are still struggling to obtain just, comprehensive and
permanent peace in the Middle East region, through achieving fair and lasting
resolution concerning the Palestinian refugees’ status according to UN resolutions
and for reaching peace through the declaration of an independent Palestinian State.
Defining the Israeli State as a Jewish State and exploiting democracy in the
service of its Jewishness excludes us, and creates tension between us and the
nature and essence of the State. Therefore, we call for a Consensual Democratic
system that enables us to be fully active in the decision –making process and
guarantee our individual and collective civil, historic, and national rights.
In light of this modern complex history, we are moving towards a new era
of self–recognition, where it is necessary to create our future path, crystallize
our collective identity and draw up our social and political agenda. The
establishment of the High Follow up Committee for the Arabs in Israel was a
pivotal point in the history of our community where such committee became
the highest representative body for all other public and political organizations.

Based on this reality of collective internal changes, the project presented by this
document is a continuation of our struggle towards crystallizing clear strategic
future vision for the Arab Palestinians in Israel. The project aims at answering
the question, “who are we and what do we want for our society?”
In order to obtain this goal, the future vision will be followed by tangible
practical steps and a concrete action plan with specific goals. We recommend
such document to be a public reference. This document includes all streams
of the Arab society, as this vision is an independent Palestinian rhetoric. We
hope this future vision would yield unity between different and sometimes
contradicting viewpoints and beliefs on the basis of our national collective
principles and interests.

The National Committee of the Local Arab Authorities in Israel is responsible
for implementing this project, a project which was presented to the High Follow
up Committee of the Arabs in Israel.

This project was implemented in two stages:

1. A Steering committee was created. It contributed to the objectives and
strategies of the project to include its actual implementation and check the
scope of conformity of the goals with the mechanisms of the program.

2. A future vision was crystallized by meetings of Arab intellects and
activists throughout the year. This stage is concluded by holding a general
conference and a presentation of a conference book that will include the
final and complete version of the future vision.

We hope that our vision would contribute to change our reality and to impact the
Israeli agenda, in an effective and positive way. This is a continuous process of the
public action that the High Follow up Committee had been implementing since its
establishment. We also hope to enrich the public discussion amongst us, Palestinians
in the Diaspora, the Jewish society in Israel and the international public opinion.

Work Process

This future vision complements the works of a group of activists and researchers
that met, during one year, in order to discuss the political, social, economic, and
cultural reality of the Palestinian Arabs in Israel.

The work process has two stages: preparation of the program and articulation
of the future vision.

The preparation stage:

A body was created to boost the program and steer its work. The steering
committee has supported the track of development of the program from two
aspects: the public aspect and the planning aspect. The committee met every
month, since June 2005, to prepare the activities of the program.

The articulation stage:

After the preparation stage, the committee asked a number of intellectuals and
community activists to attend four long weekend meetings held in Jerusalem.
The Steering committee ensured that the members of the group represented
different political beliefs and thought schools

The group had to determine the frameworks of discussion and dialogue agenda
and to move from philosophical and ideological discussions to practical and
applicable discussions.

The first meeting, held in September 2005, aimed at discussing the future vision
of all participants and looking for points of connection between them.
The second meeting was held in December 2005. It discussed the points of
strength and weakness of current situation for the Palestinian Arabs in Israel.

* This document was written by Ms. Ghaida Rinawie- Zoabi, group moderator and program officer.

Mr. Shawqi Khateeb, Chairman of the High Follow-up Committee of the Arabs in Israel, and the steering committee met with seven researchers in order to develop a strategic plan concerning 8 subjects:

1. The relation between the Palestinian Arabs and the State of Israel.
2. The legal status of the Palestinian Arabs in Israel
3. Land and housing.
4. Economic development.
5. Social development.
6. Strategic vision for Arab Education.
7. Arab Palestinian culture in Israel
8. Institutions and political work.

The steering committee asked the researchers to present their work plans to be
reviewed by academics and experts, before submission for approval within the
group .This step aimed at reinforcing and enriching the work plans.
The writers of the researchs presented a review of the strategic plans that were
discussed and approved during the third meeting which was held on April
2006. During this meeting, the group wrote the future vision introduction. At
the forth meeting on June 2006 the group was gathered to finally approve all
written texts.

The program aims at having tangible results, that is, to conclude and publish
the future vision in a conference book.

Members of the program aspire that political, media and academic groups
promote and develop these action plans provided.

The future vision provides also basis for future uses including:

1. Think tank groups discussions for strategic development
2. Media campaigns in the Arabic, Hebrew and international media
3. Pressure means on the State ministries and institutions
4. Implementation development strategies to change the reality of the
Palestinian Arabs in Israel.

The Palestinian Arabs in Israel and their relation to the State of Israel

Israel is the outcome of a settlement process initiated by the Zionist–Jewish elite
in Europe and the west and realized by Colonial countries contributing to it
and by promoting Jewish immigration to Palestine, in light of the results of the
Second World War and the Holocaust. After the creation of the State in 1948, Israel
continued to use policies derived from its vision as an extension of the west in the
Middle East and continued conflicting with its neighbors. Israel also continued
executing internal colonial policies against its Palestinian Arab citizens.

Israel carried out the Judaization process in various forms, beginning with the
expulsion of the Palestinian People back in 1948; the demolition of more than 530
Arab villages; massive confiscation of Arab land and the creation of more than
700 Jewish settlements aiming the absorption of the new Jewish immigrants.
This has led to the judaization of the land and erosion of the Palestinian history
and civilization and the building of political and economical system that
marginalized and weakened the Palestinian People especially in Israel.

Israel can not be defined as a democratic State. It can be defined as an ethnocratic
state such as Turkey, Srilanka, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia (and Canada forty
years ago). These countries have engaged their minorities in the political, social
and economic aspects of life, in a very limited and unequal way. This comes
amidst a continued and firm policy of control and censorship which guarantee
the hegemony of the majority and marginalizing the minority.

The principles of an ethnocratic system include:

1. The control of an ethnic group on the State system.
2. Focusing on ethnicity (and religion) and not citizenship, as a basic principle
of the distribution of resources and abilities and undermining the “people”
(citizens in general).
3. A gradual ethnic process of politics based on ethnic classes.
4. A permanent state of instability.
5. The ethnocratic logic provides tools for understanding societies that prefers
one certain group over others; it also dominates the dynamics between
different ethnic groups.
* This document depends to a research presented by Dr. Asaad Ghanem and discussed by the group

To maintain the ethnocratic system, Israel has implemented several rules
concerning the Palestinian Arabs in Israel:

1. Cutting all identity relations between the Palestinian Arabs in Israel and
the rest of the Palestinian People and the Arab and Islamic Nation. Israel
has tried to create a new group of “Israeli Arabs”.

2. Preventing Palestinian Arabs in Israel from keeping relations with
their brothers in Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and, the
Palestinians refugees.

3. Opposition of organizing the Palestinian Arabs in Israel in any form that
can be of a contradiction to the aspirations of the Jewish majority and the
state in terms of parliamentary representation and preventing them from
exercising any non parliamentarian political activities of public struggles.

4. Opposing the Palestinian Arab leadership attempts to building a vision adverse
to consolidate the Status of the Arab minority in the Jewish state which ultimately
accepts the Jewish control of the state, its resources and abilities.

5. Forcing the Palestinian Arabs in Israel to accept resource allocation on
a basis of ethnicity rather than citizenship. This aims at maintaining the
Jewish superiority and the Palestinian Arab inferiority in Israel.

The Palestinian Arabs in Israel are in need of changing their status. While they
are preserving their Arab Palestinian identity, they need to obtain their full
citizenship in the State and its institutions. They also aspire to attain institutional
self-rule in the field of education, culture and religion that is in fact part of
fulfilling their rights as citizens and as part of the Israeli state. They also seek to
obtain full equality with the Jewish majority.

Such self-rule within the State poses a system based on Consensual Democracy. A
system embodies the presence of two groups, the Jews and the Palestinians. Such
system would guarantee real resource, leadership and decision making participation.
The Palestinians in Israel should demand the following, from the State:

1. The State should acknowledge responsibility of the Palestinian Nakba
(tragedy of 1948) and its disastrous consequences on the Palestinians
in general and the Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel in particular. Israel
should start by rectifying the damage that it had caused and should
consider paying compensation for its Palestinian citizens as individuals
and groups for the damages resulted from the Nakba and the continuous
discriminating policies derived from viewing them as enemies and not as
citizens that have a right to appose the state and challenge its rules.

2. The State should recognize the Palestinian Arabs in Israel as an indigenous national group (and as a minority within the international conventions) that has the right within their citizenship to choose its representatives directly and be responsible for their religious, educational and cultural affairs. This group should be given the chance to create its own national institutions
relating to all living aspects and stop the policies of dividing between the
different religious sects within the Palestinian Arabs in Israel.

3. The State has to acknowledge that Israel is the homeland for both Palestinians
and Jews (the Israeli future constitution and state laws should reinforce
this point by adding an introduction paragraph). The relation between the
Palestinians and Jews in Israel should be based on attainment of equal human
and citizen rights based on international conventions and the international
relative treaties and declarations. The two groups should have mutual
relations based on the consensual democratic system (an extended coalition
between the elites of the two groups, equal proportional representation,
mutual right to veto and self administration of exclusive issues). 

4. Israel should acknowledge the right of minorities in line with international
conventions. It should admit that the Palestinian Arabs in Israel have a
special status within the institutions of the international community and
are acknowledged as an indigenous cultural national group enjoying total
citizenship in Israel. It should also acknowledge that the Arab minority
in Israel has international protection, care and support according to
international conventions and treaties.

5. Israel should refrain from adopting policies and schemes in favor of the
majority. Israel must remove all forms of ethnic superiority, be that executive,
structural, legal or symbolic. Israel should adopt policies of corrective justice
in all aspects of life in order to compensate for the damage inflicted on the
Palestinian Arabs due to the ethnic favoritism policies of the Jews. The State
should cooperate with representatives of the Palestinian Arabs to search
the possibility of restoring parts of their lands that Israel confiscated not for
public use. Israel should also dedicate an equal part of its resources for the
direct needs of the Palestinian Arabs.

6. Israel should acknowledge the rights of the Moslems to run their affairs
concerning the Waqf (Islamic endowment) and the Islamic holy sites. Israel
should no longer be in control of the Islamic and Christian holy sites and
acknowledge their right of self-rule the as part of the collective rights given
to the Palestinian Arabs.

7. Israel should acknowledge the right of the Palestinian Arabs in Israel
of social, religious, cultural and national continuity with the rest of the
Palestinian people and the Arab and Islamic Nation.

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