August 10, 2000 Special Dispatch No. 117

Israeli Arabs Prefer Israel to Palestinian Authority

August 10, 2000
Palestinians | Special Dispatch No. 117

A recent survey of Israeli Arabs in the town Um Al-Fahm indicated that the vast majority would prefer to remain citizens of Israel and would oppose their town being transferred to a Palestinian rule. Um Al-Fahm, is the stronghold of the Islamist movement in Israel. This survey was conducted by and published in[1] the Israeli Israeli Arab weekly, Kul Al-Arab, known for its nationalist pan-Arab Nasserist inclinations. The editor at large of the magazine, Samih Al-Qasem, recently told the Egyptian magazine, Al-'Usbu' that "Even if 250 million Arabs normalize their relations with Israel, he alone would oppose it."

Following is an article discussing the survey entitled "Um Al-Fahm Prefers Israel," by Joseph Algazy, Ha'aretz, August 1, 2000.

"During the [recent] Camp David summit and even during the preparations that made for it, the subject of territorial exchange between Israel and the Palestinian state was raised for the umpteenth time. According to the proposal, some of the Jewish settlements in the territories would remain under Israeli sovereignty, in return for the transfer of Israeli Arab communities in the Northern Triangle region, including the city of Um Al-Fahm, to Palestinian control. The advocates of this proposal have never bothered to consult with the individuals who would be immediately involved in such an exchange - namely, the [Arab] residents of those communities, who are Israeli citizens."

"Those advocates should realize that the [Arab] residents themselves are totally opposed to the idea. During the present round of Palestinian-Israeli talks, the head of the 'Abna Al-Balad' ('Sons of the Village') group, Raja Aghbariya, who lives in Um al Fahm, declared, in an interview published in the Nazareth weekly Kul Al-Arab, that he is 'prepared to give up the National Insurance allowance [he gets as an Israeli citizen] and Israeli democracy to be united with the land and people of Palestine.'"

"A few days later, the results of a survey conducted by Kul Al-Arab indicated a completely different view among the city's residents."

"In the survey conducted among 1,000 residents [of Um Al-Fahm], both male and female, from all of the town's clans and large families as well as all segments of the local political spectrum, 83 percent of respondents opposed the idea of transferring their city to Palestinian jurisdiction, while 11 percent supported the proposal and 6 percent did not express their position. Of those opposed to the idea, 54 percent explained that they were against becoming part of a Palestinian state because they wanted to continue living under a democratic regime and enjoying a good standard of living, which includes National Insurance allowances and pensions. Of these opponents, 18 percent stated that they were satisfied with their present situation, that they were born in Israel and that they were not interested in moving to any other state. Another 14 percent of this same group went so far as to say that they were not prepared to make sacrifices for the sake of the creation of a Palestinian state and to be its "sacrificial offering of atonement." Another 11 percent cited no reason for their opposition to the annexation of their city by the Palestinian state."

"In addition to the fact that their parents and grandparents in 1948 decided to remain on their lands, Um Al-Fahm residents themselves have, over the past few years, gained first-hand knowledge of the regime of terror, oppression and corruption that exists in the Palestinian Authority under Chairman Yasser Arafat. The residents of Um Al-Fahm have expressed not only their own views and feelings but also the views and feelings of Israel's Arab community in general as well as of many Palestinians who today live in the PA and who, irrespective of their political aspirations for the end of the Israeli occupation, are opposed to the way Arafat and his followers are managing affairs.

[1] Kul Al-Arab (Israel), July 28, 2000

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