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Home arrow Israeli Apartheid Structures arrow Noted Arab Citizens Call on Israel to Shed Jewish Identity
Noted Arab Citizens Call on Israel to Shed Jewish Identity PDF Print E-mail
Feb 07, 2007 at 12:00 AM

by ISABEL KERSHNER

JERUSALEM, Feb. 7 - A group of prominent Israeli Arabs has called on Israel to stop defining itself as a Jewish state and become a "consensual democracy for both Arabs and Jews," prompting consternation and debate across the country.

Their contention is part of "The Future Vision of the Palestinian Arabs in Israel," a report published in December under the auspices of the Committee of Arab Mayors in Israel, which represents the country's 1.3 million Arab citizens, about a fifth of the population. Some 40 well-known academics and activists took part.

They call on the state to recognize Israeli Arab citizens as an indigenous group with collective rights, saying Israel inherently discriminates against non-Jewish citizens in its symbols of state, some core laws, and budget and land allocations.

The authors propose a form of government, "consensual democracy," akin to the Belgian model for Flemish- and French-speakers, involving proportional representation and power-sharing in a central government and autonomy for the Arab community in areas like education, culture and religious affairs.

The document does not deal with the question of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, where an additional three million Palestinians live under Israeli occupation without Israeli citizenship. The aim of the declaration is to reshape the future of Israel itself.

The reaction of Jewish Israelis has ranged from some understanding to a more widespread response, indignation. Even among the center-left, where concern for civil rights is common, some have condemned the document as disturbing and harmful. On the right, Israeli Arabs have been accused of constituting a "fifth column," a demographic and strategic threat to the survival of the state....

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Toward the Establishment of a Palestinian Civil Society Defragmentation Strategy

Final Statement of the Palestinian Civil Society Conference,
Cyprus, 16–18 October 2007

As part of the effort by the Palestinian civil society organizations to overcome the state of forced Palestinian fragmentation and consolidate the national role of the Palestinian NGOs in all their places of residence, a conference titled "Toward the Establishment of a Palestinian Civil Society Defragmentation Strategy" was held in Agros, Cyprus, between 16 and 18 October 2007 at the initiative of Ittijah-The Union of Arab Community Based Associations. Forty-four participants representing a broad sector of Palestinian civil society networks, coalitions, and associations in Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Kuwait, in addition to a number of international partner organizations supporting Palestinian rights, attended the conference. The Israeli occupation authorities banned the travel of a delegation representing civil society organizations in Gaza.

The conference discussed a number of issues, notably: The Palestinian situation and Palestinian, regional, and international developments, including the Annapolis conference; the collective Palestinian strategy against the forced fragmentation; the endeavors to rebuild terms of reference and assert the constant Palestinian principles; the strategy of collective Palestinian advocacy; Palestinian media strategies; and local and international coordination on the Palestinian question.

The participants in the conference set bases that would help strengthen the overall Palestinian struggle for liberation in all its contexts: the occupation, the displacement and uprooting, and the assault on Palestinian existence in the 1948 areas.

A draft of a collective organizational structure and an action plan were also devised, and a follow-up committee to implement this plan and lead the agreed process was set up.

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