More Palestinian than the Palestinians

The latest statements by Chairman of Balad and Member of Knesset Zahalka are an expression of the 'new Palestinization,' which is growing within the Israeli-Arab population.

During Israel's military operation in Gaza last week, Chairman of the Balad party and MK Jamal Zahalka claimed that the "attack on Gaza is an attack on the entire Palestinian people" and called on Abu Mazen to "slam the door" on PM Olmert by ceasing the political process. (Ynet, 3/1/08). Moreover, the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee also held a protest demonstration against Israel's military activity in Gaza.

Although Israeli-Arabs have previously protested against Israel's policy vis-à-vis the Palestinians, the Israeli-Arab 'Palestinization,' has recently taken a different form:

  • Increased reference to the 'outstanding issues' between Israel and the PLO - The voice of Israeli-Arab leadership regarding issues such as the refugees and Jerusalem is louder than ever.

  • Attempting to take a more senior role in the Palestinian National Movement - in the past, Israeli-Arabs were careful not the challenge the status of the PLO as the Sole Legitimate Representative of Palestinians. Lately, Israeli-Arab leaders have implied on several occasions that they may not necessarily accept an agreement signed by Israel and the PLO.

This new Palestinization emerges against the backdrop of: 1) The possibility, discussed in the Israeli press, of territorial exchanges involving Israeli Arabs; 2) Israeli statements that the Palestinian state will fulfill the national aspirations of Israeli Arabs; 3) The Israeli demand that the PLO recognizes Israel as a Jewish state; 4) The fragmentation within the Palestinian National Movement, caused mainly by the strife between Fatah and Hamas.

Sources:

Waked, A., Ynet, 3/1/08.