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The impoverishment of Palestinian Arabs in Israel

May 13, 2014 at 12:32 pm

  • The Israeli government sets a state budget which is allocated to all sectors of society.
  • Claims of economic discrimination are rife given the disparity in living conditions between Palestinian Israelis and Jewish Israelis. 
  • 61.3 per cent of Palestinian families live below the poverty line compared to 29 per cent of Jewish families.
  • Of the Israeli Civil Service employees, just 5% are Palestinian Israelis.
  • The Israeli government spends $1,100 per year on each Jewish Israeli student and $192 per year on each Palestinian Israeli student.
  • In the 2008 – 09 budget the Israeli government apportioned just $11 million out of $188 million to the Palestinian infrastructure within Israel.


The Palestinian population living within Israel is estimated to be 1.5 million citizens, approximately 20 per cent of the Israeli population. Of this number, about 370,000 are ‘internally displaced’; they live in Israel but are not allowed to return to their homes or villages from which they were displaced during the 1948 Nakba (Catastrophe). Often regarded as the ‘forgotten Palestinians’ of the region, the Palestinians who reside in Israel find themselves in a unique situation compared to their compatriots in Israel and their neighbours in the West Bank and Gaza Strip -they are not entitled to the same rights as Jewish Israeli citizens and are not included or represented in the political negotiations.


In recent years, Palestinians in Israel have become more assertive and organized in their attempts to reverse the growing trend toward far right policies of racial discrimination. Since this trend has entered the official political discourse, the Palestinian community in Israel have campaigned to highlight the disadvantages they face. Israel’s incumbent government have, since 2009, passed several bills to force non-Jewish citizens to declare loyalty to a ‘Jewish state’, as well as limit their ability to own or purchase property and land.

The Palestinian community in Israel functions within a distinct sphere to Jewish Israelis; they live in separate areas, follow a separate education system, and utilize a different health care system. Notwithstanding, almost all systems are centrally controlled and financed. As a result of this pattern of separate development the Palestinian community find themselves subject to polices of ‘economic discrimination’. Much of Israel’s budgets for social services are disproportionately distributed between the Palestinian and Jewish communities.

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