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State of the World's Minorities 2007 - Israel

Publisher Minority Rights Group International
Publication Date 4 March 2007
Cite as Minority Rights Group International, State of the World's Minorities 2007 - Israel, 4 March 2007, available at: [accessed 28 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Israel continued to be pulled between its foundation as a 'Jewish state' and its claim to full democracy, inherent to which is respect for the rights of Palestinian Arabs who comprise 20 per cent of the Israeli population. Around 85 per cent of these are Muslim, and they are the fastest growing community in Israel, which many Jews regard as a threat to the Jewish identity of Israel. Continued attacks on Israel from the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip have further complicated efforts to secure the rights of this minority.

In 2006, race continued to form the basis for many Israeli government actions. In 2003, Israeli legislators instituted race-based discrimination against Palestinian Arab citizens seeking to acquire citizenship for spouses in the occupied territories, forcing thousands of families to separate. In May 2006, the Israeli Supreme Court narrowly rejected a challenge to the law. Bedouins, who make up an estimated 8.5 per cent of the Israeli Palestinian population, faced continued Israeli government efforts to change the demographics in southern Israel through the support of Jewish settlements and neglect of services to and demolition of Arab Bedouin homes in the Naqab (Negev) desert region. In August and September 2006, courts issued orders for the destruction of 12 Bedouin homes in 'unrecognized' villages. Following the July 2006 war with Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Israeli Finance Minister issued an order for compensation for Israeli border towns that suffered during the war, but systematically excluded Arab communities from the scheme. In November 2006, a draft action plan to close the gap between Jewish and Arab Israelis in educational resources had the broad agreement of Israel's Union of Local Authorities and the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, but had received only a tepid response from the Israeli Education Ministry, which wanted to spread the resources for the project over a longer time-frame. Arab Druze, the only ethnic minority subject to military conscription, make up around 1.5 per cent of the Israeli population, and have chafed at military service out of opposition to Israeli policy in the occupied territories. The Arab Druze Initiative, an organization of conscientious objectors to military service, estimated in April 2006 that the number of Druze youth refusing military service had climbed to 40 per cent, despite the threat of arrest.

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