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Palestinians in Palestine... the continuous suffering

Sixty-six years after the establishment of Israel (1948-2014), the Arab minority inside the Green Line are facing significant challenges, mainly the call by some Israelis – led by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman – to expel as many Palestinians inside the Green Line as possible to the West Bank or outside the borders of historic Palestine and the occupy their land. The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also called for the expulsion of Israel’s Arab minority and emphasised this in many recommendations he made to Israeli conferences; including the Herzliya conference which has been held on a regular basis since 2000.

Upon examining the literature of the Zionist movement, we find that the success of the movement’s project in creating a Jewish state in Palestine and its continuity lies in the ability to displace the Palestinian population from their homes and replaced with Jewish settlers from all over the world. Forty-nine years after it held its conference in the Swiss city of Basel, the Zionist movement was able to establish a state (May 15, 1948) on about 78 per cent of the area of ​​Palestine, amounting to 27009 square kilometres. They displaced about 850,000, who represented 61 per cent of the total Palestinian population in 1948, from their land.

Ever since that year, the decision-makers in Israel considered the mere existence of the Arab minority in its territory as an existential threat to them, so they have adopted a strategy aiming to continue the discrimination against the Palestinians in order to force them to leave their land and evacuate the land’s legitimate owners.

The Israeli authorities later adopted policies that aimed to cut off the Arab minority from its Arab surroundings, while, at the same time, tried to assimilate and integrate them, but on the margins of Israeli society. The Israeli authorities also worked hard to obliterate the Arab identity, so they tried to classify the Druze and Circassian ethnic groups as separate nationals and imposed upon them compulsory military service in the Israeli army in 1958. They also tried to divide the Arab Muslims and Christians by separating the Christians into eastern and western factions and the Muslims into different sects.

The Arabs inside the Green Line went through three phases during the period between 1948 and 2014. The first phase 1948-1966; was the time of the Israeli military rule, during which Israel issued 34 laws regarding the confiscation of Arab land, pertaining to both the land owned by Palestinian refugees in Diaspora or those who are absentees living in different villages or cities than the ones which they were expelled from .

For example, some of those from the Nazareth district of Saffuriyya live near the village they were expelled from in 1948 and they are prohibited from returning to it. The number of absentees is estimated at about 260,000 Palestinians. The Israeli policies of confiscating more land continued to be adopted, reaching its peak in March 1976, when the Israeli authorities confiscated about 21,000 acres from the villages of Sakhnin, Arraba, and other Palestinian villages in the Galilee and Al-Muthalath. Based on this, the Arab minority launched the Land Day uprising on March 30, 1976, during which six Palestinians from the village were killed. This day has now been marked as a national day for the Palestinian people, wherever they are, through which the national Palestinian unity is embodied in order to defend the Arab identity of the land and prevent its confiscation.

Israel continued to confiscate Arab land under the pretext of security necessity. Therefore, despite their large numbers, 151,000 in 1948 and about 1.6 million in 2014, the Palestinians represent about 20 per cent of Israel’s population, but only own 3 per cent of the land that the Israeli state was established on, in 1948, under exceptional international and regional circumstances. In addition to this, the Arabs inside the Green Line suffer from clear Israeli discrimination with regards to employment, education and health, which is reflected in the relevant indicators. While the unemployment rate amongst the Israeli Jews is between 8-9 per cent over the past few years, the unemployment rate amongst Arabs has increased to about 19 per cent. Due to the lack of choices, 44 per cent of Palestinian children attend pre-school, while 95 per cent of Jewish children begin kindergarten at the age of three.

In an attempt to Judaise the Arab land inside the Green Line, the Israeli authorities made plans to Judaise the Galilee and the Negev in order to break the concentrated Arab population in the two areas through the form of development projects, for example the so-called 2020 “Star of David” project. Such projects aim to create an imbalance in the population, in favour of the Jewish people, especially in the north, which includes the cities of Galilee, such as the city of Nazareth.

On the 66th anniversary of Israel’s establishment, the Arab’s considerable physical presence and its enhancement within the territories occupied since 1948, as well as improving various conditions, remain as the most important aims in the long run in order to sabotage the opportunity for the achievement of any Israeli goals. Particularly regarding the laws considered to be paving the way to occupy more Arab land and displace the largest number of Palestinians possible from their homeland. Several Israeli officials have called for the implementation of such Israeli policies, beginning with the Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who has urged such polices on more than one occasion.

Translated from Al Quds newspaper, 19 May 2014

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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