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Israeli Arab Group Rejects Rabin’s Definition of Israel As Jewish State

A group of Israeli Arab leaders that met with Premier Yitzhak Rabin two weeks ago has drafted a strongly worded memorandum to him challenging the Zionist definition of Israel as a Jewish State with an Arab minority. The group, consisting of the heads of Arab town and village councils, has taken sharp issue with Rabin for describing the Arab minority as a distinctive culture and religion but omitting any national significance. They are also bitter over Rabin’s refusal to rescind the government’s plans to expropriate land–some Arab and some Jewish owned–in Galilee.

The memorandum, which will be delivered to the Premier later this week, stresses that the Arabs regard Israel as a state for two nations. The Arabic word used is ambiguous but can be interpreted as a bi-national state. The group also warns that it will oppose the expropriation of “any continuous” of Arab land in Galilee, the Negev or the so-called “triangle” east of the coastal plain. Apart from the Galilee project, there are no known plans for expropriation in any of these areas.

The Arab leaders also criticized a government decision to create an Arab-Jewish public council to deal with problems of the Arab minority. The press has leaked the names of some 35 Arab personalities that would participate in the 73-member council. Many of them are regarded by the Arabs as establishment-oriented. The local leaders insist that committees will not solve the problems but only a change in government policy toward Israel’s Arab citizens. Two prominent Arabs whose names appeared on the unofficial list have announced that they would not participate in the council.

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