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
More Quotes About "Palestine"
"There is no such country as Palestine. 'Palestine' is a term the Zionists invented. There is no Palestine in the Bible. Our country was for centuries part of Syria. 'Palestine' is alien to us. It is the Zionists who introduced it".
- Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi, Syrian Arab leader to British Peel Commission, 1937 -
"There is no such thing as Palestine in history, absolutely not".
- Professor Philip Hitti, Arab historian, 1946 -
"It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but Southern Syria".
- Representant of Saudi Arabia at the United Nations, 1956 -
Concerning the Holy Land, the chairman of the Syrian Delegation at the Paris Peace Conference in February 1919 stated:
"The only Arab domination since the Conquest in 635 c.e. hardly lasted, as such, 22 years".
"There is not a solitary village throughout its whole extent (valley of Jezreel, Galilea); not for thirty miles in either direction... One may ride ten miles hereabouts and not see ten human beings. For the sort of solitude to make one dreary, come to Galilee... Nazareth is forlorn... Jericho lies a mouldering ruin... Bethlehem and Bethany, in their poverty and humiliation... untenanted by any living creature... A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds... a silent, mournful expanse... a desolation... We never saw a human being on the whole route... Hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil had almost deserted the country... Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes... desolate and unlovely...".
- Mark Twain, "The Innocents Abroad", 1867 -
"In 1590 a 'simple English visitor' to Jerusalem wrote: 'Nothing there is to bescene but a little of the old walls, which is yet remayning and all the rest is grasse, mosse and weedes much like to a piece of rank or moist grounde'.".
- Gunner Edward Webbe, Palestine Exploration Fund,
Quarterly Statement, p. 86; de Haas, History, p. 338 -
"The land in Palestine is lacking in people to till its fertile soil".
- British archaeologist Thomas Shaw, mid-1700s -
"Palestine is a ruined and desolate land".
- Count Constantine François Volney, XVIII century French author and historian -
"The Arabs themselves cannot be considered but temporary residents. They pitched their tents in its grazing fields or built their places of refuge in its ruined cities. They created nothing in it. Since they were strangers to the land, they never became its masters. The desert wind that brought them hither could one day carry them away without their leaving behind them any sign of their passage through it".
- Comments by Christians concerning the Arabs in Palestine in the 1800s -
"Then we entered the hill district, and our path lay through the clattering bed of an ancient stream, whose brawling waters have rolled away into the past, along with the fierce and turbulent race who once inhabited these savage hills. There may have been cultivation here two thousand years ago. The mountains, or huge stony mounds environing this rough path, have level ridges all the way up to their summits; on these parallel ledges there is still some verdure and soil: when water flowed here, and the country was thronged with that extraordinary population, which, according to the Sacred Histories, was crowded into the region, these mountain steps may have been gardens and vineyards, such as we see now thriving along the hills of the Rhine. Now the district is quite deserted, and you ride among what seem to be so many petrified waterfalls. We saw no animals moving among the stony brakes; scarcely even a dozen little birds in the whole course of the ride".
- William Thackeray in "From Jaffa To Jerusalem", 1844 -
"The country is in a considerable degree empty of inhabitants and therefore its greatest need is of a body of population".
- James Finn, British Consul in 1857 -
"The area was underpopulated and remained economically stagnant until the arrival of the first Zionist pioneers in the 1880's, who came to rebuild the Jewish land. The country had remained "The Holy Land" in the religious and historic consciousness of mankind, which associated it with the Bible and the history of the Jewish people. Jewish development of the country also attracted large numbers of other immigrants - both Jewish and Arab. The road leading from Gaza to the north was only a summer track suitable for transport by camels and carts... Houses were all of mud. No windows were anywhere to be seen... The plows used were of wood... The yields were very poor... The sanitary conditions in the village [Yabna] were horrible... Schools did not exist... The rate of infant mortality was very high... The western part, toward the sea, was almost a desert... The villages in this area were few and thinly populated. Many ruins of villages were scattered over the area, as owing to the prevalence of malaria, many villages were deserted by their inhabitants".
- The report of the British Royal Commission, 1913 -