Arab-Palestinian Citizens of Israel


The Arab residents who remained after the 1948 War in the territory that became the State of Israel became citizens of the state. Most consider themselves part of the Palestinian nation. The tension between holding Israeli citizenship while belonging to a Palestinian nation during a reality of Israeli-Palestinian conflict defines this worldview. The internal political-ideological divide among communists, Islamists and secular nationalists is eclipsed by the broader split between those participating in Israeli society, notably through Knesset elections, versus more reclusive groups who habitually boycott Israeli national institutions. Arab Palestinian citizens of Israel comprise roughly 17 percent of the Israeli citizenry, the majority of whom are Muslim (an additional 3 percent of Israel’s population live in East Jerusalem as permanent residents rather than citizens and their worldview tends to be considerably closer to that of West Banker Palestinians).

Conflict Resolution Challenges

Core narratives

Israel’s Palestinian citizens are the ones who stayed put and succeeded clinging to the land (sumoud) despite Zionist expulsions and discriminatory policies. Israel’s establishment detached this population from other Palestinians and Arabs, leaving it as an indigenous minority in its historical homeland. Israel’s present national character, a “Jewish and democratic state”, is inherently discriminatory toward the state’s non-Jewish citizens and should be modified both nominally and practically.

Primary Legal System

International law, with an emphasis on anti-colonial tenets and anti-discriminatory tenets.Secondarily, Israeli law which is simultaneously treated as inherently discriminatory yet offering limited access to rights.

Desirable Trajectory

Most prefer establishing Palestine as the nation-state of the Palestinian people alongside Israel, based on the 1967 lines, and changing Israel’s character to a bi-national state or a consociational democracy. A minority desires a bi-national state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean but the majority supports a two-state framework which within Israel would simultaneously provide national self-determination for (non-Israeli) Palestinians, full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel and thus a continuation of their integration into Israeli economy and society.

Prominent Stakeholders

Knesset Parties: Hadash, Ra’am, Balad and Ta’al. The Joint List. High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel.


Israel’s Arab-Palestinian citizens hold significant weight regarding the contestation over Israel’s character and hence the feasibility of ending Palestinian claims from Israel. A majority supports a two state agreement which goes further than territorial compromise by addressing also the identity-related nexus of Israel’s character, Palestinian refugee rights and the status of Israel’s Arab-Palestinian minority. In recent years, a clear majority of the public and its leaders has come to support active participation in Israeli politics, including in coalition formation processes, not least with an eye to enthroning governments which would aim to mitigate or resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Many express a willingness to be a purported bridge between Israelis and Palestinians. Against the backdrop of the anti- normalization campaigns in the West Bank, which de-legitimize societal dialogues regarding the conflict, Israel’s Arab-Palestinian citizens have played an increasingly sizable role in dialogues with Israel’s Jewish citizens regarding the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Meet RAWAN: Arab Palestinian Citizens of Israel Worldview

Rawan: on the Conflict