A Call for Solidarity from Palestinian Citizens in IsraelFeb. 1, 2016, midnight
30th January 2016
Today we affirm our enduring support for our fellow Palestinians inside Israel and answer their call for solidarity. Together, we stand against Israeli discrimination towards Palestinians. This is an opportunity to highlight the deep institutional racism endemic inside Israel and to expose a political, economic and legal system that favours its majority over its minority. We urge the people and government of the United Kingdom to press Israel to stop treating Palestinians in Israel as second class citizens and afford them full equality.
“Our hearts and souls are with our brothers and sisters inside the Green Line whom Israel subjects to systematic discriminatory policies which amount to apartheid and ethnic cleansing. The oppressive treatment of Palestinians in Israel is indicative of its ‘Hypocrisy of Democracy’”. H.E. Manuel Hassassian
The Committee for Palestinian Citizens in Israel has urged Palestinian and Arab organisations to demonstrate solidarity with them in occupied Palestine, the Arab World and globally on Saturday 30th January, a day they have inaugurated and named, the Day of Solidarity with Palestinian Citizens in Israel.
In a detailed and comprehensive declaration, the Committee described the terrible conditions Palestinians in Israel are subjected to. These are the Palestinians who stayed steadfast from the Year of the Nakba. The Nakba, meaning ‘catastrophe’ is a term used by Palestinians to describe the cataclysm which befell them with the establishment of Israel in 1948 when the new, self-declared state of Israel destroyed nearly 500 Palestinian villages and forcibly orchestrated the mass expulsion of the majority of the Palestinian population, over 750,000, from Palestine. Those who stayed within what became Israel’s borders, numbered 153,000. Of these, one quarter of them were prevented from going back to their villages and internally displaced. They were subjected to harsh martial law until 1966.
The current conditions imposed on Palestinians inside Israel, who today constitute 20% of the population, cause incalculable suffering treating them as second class citizens in their own homeland. These include obstructing freedom of movement, outlawing the work of the Islamic Movement and abolishing numerous schemes and committees specializing in education and healthcare. Israel has done this by utilizing draconian military laws put in place by the British when Palestine was under their Mandate control.
The Committee for Palestinian Citizens in Israel consider Israel’s current discriminatory policies, a prelude to an attempt to completely suffocate the political activism of the Palestinians minority. In the face of this, however, they are determined to continue political activities and preserve their identity as Palestinians. The oppressive measures Israel is taking are proof of an utter lack of democracy. There is one law for Jewish Israelis and one for the Palestinian minority. The Committee referred to some current examples of discriminatory Israeli policies towards the Palestinian minority inside Israel. Since the Year of the Nakba, when Palestinians legally owned the majority of the land in Palestine, Israel has built approximately 1000 towns and villages for Jewish Israelis and not one for the Palestinian population whose numbers are now ten times greater than in 1948, reaching 1.7 million. In fact, they continue to demolish Palestinian homes almost on a weekly basis and, in December 2015, the Palestinian villages of Tamra and Araqeeb in the Negev were destroyed once again.
The Palestinians in Israel have been consistently excluded from local and central community development projects. The Palestinian minority have a much lower income than the Jewish Israel majority and earn, on average, one third less. There are very much higher rates of poverty among the Palestinians in Israel, reaching, 55% compared to 14% among Jewish inhabitants.
The Committee ended by focussing on the recent policies of the Netanyahu government which have clearly demonstrated that Israel categorically refuses to participate in any process that genuinely attempts to find a solution to the Palestinian Question. In fact, it is a case of the opposite. Currently, 41 new oppressive laws to further oppress Palestinians in Israel and discriminate against them because they are not Jewish are being considered by the Knesset. These include force-feeding Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike and making throwing stones, ‘an act of terror’, a crime carrying a prison sentence of between 3 and 20 years! The family re-unification law is another discriminatory law. It prohibits Palestinians in occupied Palestine who marry Palestinian citizens in Israel from joining their spouses and residing in Israel. Most concerning, is law especially engineered in relation to Palestinian children who have been arrested and who can be now kept in special detention centres until they are 14 when they can be transferred to regular prisons.
Mohammed Barakeh, a former member of the Knesset and Head of the Committee for Palestinian Citizens in Israel signed the declaration on behalf of the Committee. He emphasised that the Palestinians in Israel, who remained in 1948, are an indivisible part of Palestinian People who are all fighting for their democratic rights and are determined to live free of oppression and discrimination.