Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights University of Ottawa (SPHR) is a student run, non-profit organization that advocates on a strong social justice platform to uphold the rights of the Palestinian people in the face of human rights violations and all forms of racism, discrimination, misinformation and misrepresentation.

July 16, 2007

Palestinian Citizens of Israel

The Palestinians in Israel, usually referred to as Arab-Israelis, are descendants of the people that managed to remain within Palestine during the years of the establishment of the state of Israel. Palestinian citizens of Israel comprise approximately 1.3 million persons, about 20% of Israel's total population. They numbered in 1948 approximately 150,000, of which about 25% became internal refugees (Internally Displaced Persons). Geographically the Palestinian Israelis live in Arab villages and cities in Galilee, in the so-called "Arab Triangle", in the Negev Desert and in mixed Arab-Jewish cities such as Haifa, Akka, Lydda, Ramla and Jaffa.

The cultural and political identity of Palestinian citizens is put under major pressure by the Israeli state, and expressions of collective identity are regarded as subversive.

From 1948 until 1966 the Palestinians in Israel lived under military occupation. Palestinians faced restrictions on the freedom of movement, restrictions on the freedom of press and opinion and legal confiscation of land and property. Under military law Palestinians faced the possibility of deportations, illegal detentions without trial, curfews, house arrests etc. The end of military rule in 1966 did not end this legal and institutional discrimination.

Currently, the inequality under the Basic law is felt in almost all aspects of social, political and economic life:

A discriminatory educational system where curriculum is routinely biased in favour of Jewish customs and norms at the expense of Arab culture.
A fraction of the funds allocated for social services, maintenance and building of infrastructure in the Israeli budgets (less than 5%) go to developing Palestinian towns in Israel.
Palestinian citizens face strict building and land ownership restrictions compared to Jewish citizens of the state. Since most of the land in the state (86%) is owned and leased by the Israeli Land Authority (ILA) to Israeli citizens, several clear restrictions are made on Arab leasing of the land.
Palestinian citizens of Israel can only lease land in certain areas of the state while their Jewish counterparts have no such restrictions placed upon them
The maximum lease period for Palestinian citizens is 3 years. The minimum lease period for Jewish citizens is 50 years. This means that Palestinian citizens feel continuous insecurity about their future since any long term investment on leased land can be easily halted by the ILA
The Palestinian (non-Israeli citizens) spouses of Israeli citizens cannot obtain Israeli citizenship in a racist policy meant to restrict people from Palestinian origin to obtain Israeli citizenship.

The active policy of under-development also becomes clear in the case of the "unrecognized” villages. About 100,000 people live in these villages, mostly in the Negev and in the North, which the Israeli authorities refuse to recognize. This means that even the most basic services are not made available to their inhabitants, such as running water, health services, sanitation, electricity, safe roads, adequate education facilities or postal and other communication services. Over the past two years, the Israeli authorities have engaged in a campaign to abolish some of these villages by spraying their crops with poisonous chemicals from the sky and by forcefully demolishing their houses.


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