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Arabs Meet with Knesset Leaders; Seek Changes in Nationality Law

A delegation claiming to represent all the Arabs in Israel today met with the praesidium of the Knesset to protest the new nationality law and to demand changes which would give the Arabs “absolute equality with the Jews” in the matter of citizenship.

After the meeting, the Arab delegation told a press conference that the government estimates that only several thousand Arabs would not automatically acquire citizenship were inaccurate. “Almost half the Israel Arabs are affected,” a spokesman said, adding that “we would fight for the principle” if only one Arab was involved. The spokesman also protested a provision in the law which he said would bar from citizenship children of Arab Israeli citizens who were studying abroad when the law went into effect last Monday.

Meanwhile, a Ministry of Interior spokesman revealed that a total of 21,499 Jewish residents of Israel had rejected Israeli citizenship. Most of these residents came originally from Austria, North Africa, United States, Britain and Iran. Israel’s current population is just under 1,500,000, the spokesman announced.

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