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
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

Ashdown Group: Head of IT - Hertfordshire - £90,000

£70000 - £90000 per annum + bonus + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: H...

Day In a Page

Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions
Major medical journal Lancet under attack for 'extremist hate propaganda' over its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Lancet accused of 'anti-Israel hate propaganda' over coverage of Gaza conflict

Threat to free speech as publishers of renowned medical journal are accused of inciting hatred and violence
General Election 2015: Tories and Lib Dems throw their star names west to grab votes

All noisy on the Lib Dems' western front

The party has deployed its big guns in Cornwall to save its seats there. Simon Usborne heads to the heart of the battle
How Etsy became a crafty little earner: The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?

How Etsy became a crafty little earner

The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?
Guy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle King Arthur - one of our most versatile heroes

King Arthur is inspiring Guy Ritchie

Raluca Radulescu explains why his many permutations - from folk hero to chick-lit hunk - never cease to fascinate
Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations for the man or woman on the street?

Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations?

The Apple Watch has apparently sold millions even before its launch tomorrow
Don't fear the artichoke: it's a good cook's staple, with more choice than you'd think

Don't fear the artichoke

Artichokes are scary - they've got spikes and hairy bits, and British cooks tend to give them a wide berth. But they're an essential and delicious part of Italian cuisine
11 best men's socks

11 best men's socks

Make a statement with your accessories, starting from the bottom up
Paul Scholes column: Eden Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo

Paul Scholes column

Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo
Frank Warren: Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal

Frank Warren's Ringside

Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal
London Marathon 2015: Kenya's brothers in arms Wilson Kipsang and Dennis Kimetto ready to take on world

Kenya's brothers in arms take on world

Last year Wilson Kipsang had his marathon record taken off him by training partner and friend Dennis Kimetto. They talk about facing off in the London Marathon
Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad but it's not because I refuse to fly

Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad

Green leader prefers to stay clear of her 'painful' family memories but is more open about 'utterly unreasonable' personal attacks
Syria conflict: Khorasan return with a fresh influx of fighters awaiting the order to start 'shooting the birds'

Khorasan is back in Syria

America said these al-Qaeda militants were bombed out of the country last year - but Kim Sengupta hears a different story
General Election 2015: Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North for Ukip?

On the campaign trail with Ukip

Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North?
Four rival Robin Hood movies get Hollywood go-head - and Friar Tuck will become a superhero

Expect a rush on men's tights

Studios line up four Robin Hoods productions