INSS Strategic Assessment: Bill for Recognition of the Arab ...

INSS Strategic Assessment: Bill for Recognition of the Arab Minority as a National Minority

Doron Matza and Muhammed Abu Nasra | April 2017


In early November 2016, MK Jamal Zahalka (Joint List) submitted a bill for recognition of the Arab minority as a national minority. This was the sixth time such a bill was floated (identical versions were initiated in May 2001, July 2003, October 2009, July 2013, and June 2015), but the first time it got as far as a preliminary reading in the Knesset plenum. The bill was – as expected – rejected, with 77 opposed versus 19 in favor.

In a strategic assessment of the legislative move, INSS (Institute for National Security Studies) analyzes how promotion of an identical bill over 16 years reflects changes in Jewish-Arab and state-minority relations in Israel, and changes in the long-term aspirations of the Arab minority.

One the one hand, they argue, Arab citizens have adopted assertive measures reflecting the development of identity. On the other hand, the repeated legilslation also echoes a deep sense of anxiety which leads the Arab minority to seek constitutional measures to defend their basic rights, and at the same time aim to signal to the majority that exclusion of Arab citizens may exact a political cost in the form of a nationalistic separatist attitude.

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