Secret paper reveals EU broadside over plight of Israel's Arabs

Memo seen by The Independent highlights tensions between Tel Aviv and Europe.

A growing gulf between Israel's Jewish and Arab communities is highlighted in a critical EU paper which breaks new ground by suggesting that the international community has a role in ensuring "genuinely equal treatment" for the country's Arab minority.

The confidential 27-page draft prepared by European diplomats and seen by The Independent charts a wide range of indicators showing that Israeli Arabs suffer "economic disparities ... unequal access to land and housing ... discriminatory draft legislation and a political climate in which discriminatory rhetoric and practice go unsanctioned."

The paper also levels criticisms at some Israeli Arab leaders, charging that the most extreme feed accusations of disloyalty within the majority Jewish community. And it is careful to praise positive state measures affecting the Arab community, including on policing. But it charges that Israel has addressed "few" of the recommendations on the "socio-conomic causes of Israeli Arab frustration" made by the Or Commission, appointed after 12 Israeli Arabs were killed by police during demonstrations 11 years ago.

The circulation of the paper has irritated Israel's Foreign Ministry, which yesterday accused the EU diplomats of preparing the document "behind our backs" and not seeking the government's views. "We were not informed, consulted or approached about this document allegedly written by EU diplomats," the ministry's spokesman said.

While EU leaders regularly criticise Israel over its activities in occupied territory – including the growth of settlement building – the draft is unusual in tackling a highly sensitive issue within Israel's borders. It warns that the erosion of Israel's founding ethos – as a Jewish homeland but one committed to treating all citizens equally – "will reinforce those who seek to 'delegitimise' Israel and damage [its] international standing".

A detailed list of recommendations for the EU itself – including active lobbying against discriminatory laws, allocating more European scholarships to Arab students, encouraging European high-tech companies to invest in Arab areas, and fostering the teaching of Arabic and co-existence projects in schools – are understood to have been dropped from the paper after objections mainly from the Netherlands. The draft affirms that Israel's treatment of its minorities within its borders should be seen by the international community as a "core issue, not second tier to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict".

The diplomats also highlight a recent spate of Knesset bills which "would have denied some Israelis their citizenship, legalised discrimination in access to housing, and limited freedom of speech". While the paper acknowledges that the "most discriminatory" elements of such legislation have largely been softened or eliminated, such bills "have a chilling effect on Jewish-Arab relations".

It also points out that despite "robust anti-incitement laws" and the fact that the Israeli Prime Minister "eventually" issued a condemnation, no action was taken against 47 state-employed municipal rabbis who called for Jews not to let property to Arabs.

The paper points out that while being up to 20 per cent of the population, Israeli Arabs own only 3 per cent of the land. It says Arab average earnings are only 61 per cent of those in the Jewish community, with 50 per cent of Israeli Arabs living in poverty, according to the OECD.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Bianca Miller and Katie Bulmer-Cooke are scrutinised by Lord Sugar's aide Nick Hewer on The Apprentice final
tvBut Bianca Miller has taken on board his comments over pricing
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
in picturesWounded and mangy husky puppy rescued from dump
News
newsAstonishing moment a kangaroo takes down a drone
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

£16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Administrator is requir...

Recruitment Genius: EWI / IWI Installer

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of design...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - Chessington

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Service Desk Analyst - Chessington, Surrey...

Recruitment Genius: Technical Support Analyst / Helpdesk Support Analyst

£16000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is the UK's leading ...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'