Inequality in Israel takes many forms. Some of the major fault-lines that divide Israeli society,creating relatively privileged and deprived groups, are Western Jews (
) versus EasternJews (
); men versus women; Israel-born Jews (
) versus new immigrants (
);Orthodox versus secular Jews; rural versus urban dwellers; rich versus poor; left-wing versusright-wing supporters; and gay versus straight people. This report focuses on inequalities betweenJewish citizens of Israelthe majorityand Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel, a national, non-immigrant minority living in its historical homeland.
Today, Palestinian citizens of the state comprise 20% of the total population, numbering almost1.2 million people.
They remained in their homeland following the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, becoming an involuntary minority. A part of the Palestinian people who currentlylive in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Diaspora, they belong to three religiouscommunities: Muslim (82%), Christian (9.5%) and Druze (8.5%).
Their status underinternational human rights instruments to which Israel is a State party is that of a national,ethnic, linguistic and religious minority. However, despite this status, the Palestinian minority is not declared as a national minority in theBasic Laws of Israel. In 1948, Israel was established as a Jewish state. The definition of Israel as“the Jewish State” or “the State of the Jewish People” makes inequality a practical, political andideological reality for Palestinian citizens of Israel, who are marginalized and discriminatedagainst by the state on the basis of their national belonging and religious affiliation as non-Jews.They are frequently and increasingly viewed as a “fifth column” as a result of their Palestinianidentity and national, religious, ethnic and cultural ties to their fellow Palestinians in the OccupiedPalestinian Territory (OPT) and surrounding Arab and Muslim states, a number of which areconsidered “enemy states” by Israel.
Furthermore, this perception is not restricted to the stateauthorities: according to the Israel Democracy Institute, in 2010 53% of theJewish publicmaintained that the state was entitled to encourage Arabs to emigrate from Israel.
Numerous groups of Palestinian citizens of Israel face “compound discrimination” or multipleforms of discrimination on the basis of both their national belonging and their membership in one
The report will not discuss gaps between the various religious subgroups that exist within the Palestinian minority(Muslim, Christian and Druze) except where the Israeli official data are broken down according to these groups.Where the relevant data are available, however, they do include a gender breakdown.
Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), Statistical Abstract of Israel 2009, No. 60, Tables 2.2, 2.8, 2.10. Thisfigure does not include the Arab population of occupied East Jerusalem or the occupied Golan Heights.
Although not specifically defined as “enemy states” in legislation, they are treated as such by a number of lawsthat restrict relations and contacts between Israel and a number of countries, all of which are Arab and/or Muslimstates. For example,
The Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law (2003
) prohibits family unification in Israel betweenIsraeli citizens and non-Jewish spouses from Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Iran. The law imposes a similar ban onspouses from the Gaza Strip, in addition to harsh restrictions on family unification between Israeli citizens andPalestinian West Bank residents. A 2008 amendment to
The Citizenship Law (1952
) allows the revocation of thecitizenship of Israeli citizens who acquire citizenship or permanent residency in Iran, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Libya,Sudan, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen or Gaza.
The Prevention of Infiltration (Offences and Jurisdiction) Law (1954
)makes it a criminal offence to leave Israel and knowingly and illegally enter Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Jordan, SaudiArabia, Iraq, Yemen Iran or the OPT, and for nationals of Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq andYemen, as well as a resident or visitor to these countries or to the OPT, to enter Israel knowingly and illegally.
Israel Democracy Institute,
Auditing Israeli Democracy2010