Arab citizens of Israel

Arab citizens of Israel
(عرب إسرائيل (العرب الإسرائيليون
עֲרָבִים אֶזרָחֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל
Total population
1,658,000
Over 278,000 in East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights (2012)
21% of Israeli population[1][2]
Regions with significant populations
 Israel
Languages
Palestinian Arabic, Bedouin dialects and Hebrew
Religion
Islam 84% (mostly Sunni), Christianity 8% and Druze 8%[1]
Map of Arab population, 2015

Arab citizens of Israel,[3] or Arab Israelis, are Israeli citizens whose primary language or linguistic heritage is Arabic.[dubious ] Many Arab citizens of Israel self-identify as Palestinian and commonly self-designate themselves as Palestinian citizens of Israel or Israeli Palestinians,[4][5] though only about 13% of them hold a Palestinian nationality ID in addition to the Israeli one. A notable percentage of Arab citizens in Israel refer to themselves as Israeli Arabs, while rejecting Palestinian identity.[6] The traditional vernacular of most Arab citizens, irrespective of religion, is the Palestinian dialect of Arabic. Most Arab citizens of Israel are functionally bilingual, their second language being Modern Hebrew. By religious affiliation, most are Muslim, particularly of the Sunni branch of Islam. There is a significant Arab Christian minority from various denominations as well as the Druze, among other religious communities.[7]

According to Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics, the Arab population in 2013 was estimated at 1,658,000, representing 21% of the country's population.[2] The majority of these identify themselves as Arab or Palestinian by nationality and Israeli by citizenship.[8][9][10] Arab citizens of Israel mostly live in Arab-majority towns and cities; with eight of Israel's ten poorest cities being Arab. The vast majority attend separate schools to Jewish Israelis, and Arab political parties have never joined a government coalition.[11] Many have family ties to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as well as to Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. Negev Bedouins and the Druze tend to identify more as Israelis than other Arab citizens of Israel.[12][13][14][15]

The Arabs living in East Jerusalem and the Druze in the Golan Heights, occupied by Israel in the Six-Day War of 1967 and later annexed, were offered Israeli citizenship, but most have refused, not wanting to recognize Israel's claim to sovereignty. They became permanent residents instead.[16] They have the right to apply for citizenship, are entitled to municipal services and have municipal voting rights.[17]

Map of Arab population by regions, 2000

Terminology

How to refer to the Arab citizenry of Israel is a highly politicized issue and there are a number of self-identification labels used by members of this community.[18][19] Generally speaking, supporters of Israel tend to use Israeli Arab or Arab Israeli to refer to this population without mentioning Palestine, while critics of Israel (or supporters of Palestinians) tend to use Palestinian or Palestinian Arab without referencing Israel.[20] According to The New York Times, most prefer now to identify themselves as Palestinian citizens of Israel rather than as Israeli Arabs.[21] The New York Times uses both 'Palestinian Israelis'[22] and 'Israeli Arabs' to refer to the same population.

Common practice in contemporary academic literature is to identify this community as Palestinian as it is how the majority self-identify (See Self-Identification below for more).[23] Terms preferred by most Arab citizens to identify themselves include Palestinians, Palestinians in Israel, Israeli Palestinians, the Palestinians of 1948, Palestinian Arabs, Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel or Palestinian citizens of Israel.[8][18][19][24][25][26] There are, however, individuals from among the Arab citizenry who reject the term Palestinian altogether.[18] A minority of Israel's Arab citizens include "Israeli" in some way in their self-identifying label; the majority identify as Palestinian by nationality and Israeli by citizenship.[9][19]

The Israeli establishment prefers Israeli Arabs or Arabs in Israel, and also uses the terms the minorities, the Arab sector, Arabs of Israel and Arab citizens of Israel.[8][24][25][27][28] These labels have been criticized for denying this population a political or national identification, obscuring their Palestinian identity and connection to Palestine.[25][27][28] The term Israeli Arabs in particular is viewed as a construct of the Israeli authorities.[25][27][28][29] It is nonetheless used by a significant minority of the Arab population, "reflecting its dominance in Israeli social discourse."[19]

Other terms used to refer to this population include Palestinian Arabs in Israel, Israeli Palestinian Arabs, the Arabs inside the Green Line, and the Arabs within (Arabic: عرب الداخل‎).[8][24][27] The latter two appellations, among others listed above, are not applied to the East Jerusalem Arab population or the Druze in the Golan Heights, as these territories were occupied by Israel in 1967. As the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics defines the area covered in its statistics survey as including East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, the number of Arabs in Israel is calculated as just over 20% of the Israeli population (2013).[2]