A senior member of the Knesset, Israel's parliament, has claimed that Palestinian Christians "are not Arabs". The Chairman of the governing coalition, Yariv Levin MK, made his comment in the context of a proposed bill which would discriminate in favour of Christians over Muslims in Israel it has been reported by Maariv newspaper.
"If the planned bill becomes law," said Maariv, "Palestinian Christians inside Israel will be treated in a way very different to the way that the Muslims are; for a start, they will be given different representation in municipal and government councils."
According to Levin, the measure will enable Christians to be "closer" to Israeli Jews than Muslims are. If he has his way, Christians will be able to register their civil identity as "Christian" instead of "Arab Christian". They would also be given more state benefits, similar to those given to Jews.
Successive Israeli governments have followed a policy of discrimination in their treatment of Palestinian Christians and Muslims ever since the establishment of the state in 1948. However, they have confiscated, destroyed and desecrated a huge number of holy places belonging to both religions and displaced thousands of Christian and Muslim citizens before giving their land to Jewish settlers.