Plight of Israeli Arabs has been overlooked for too long – Angus Robertson MSP

The violent scenes from the Middle East are as depressing as they are familiar.

Israeli police detain a boy as Israeli Arabs and left-wing Israelis protest against the purchase of houses in Jaffa, near Tel Aviv by a Jewish religious institution (Picture: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP via Getty Images)

Innocent civilians killed in Israeli airstrikes in Gaza while only a few miles away Israeli civilians cowered in air-raid shelters from rockets launched by Hamas. Things were bad enough last week with serious unrest in Jerusalem but the situation has deteriorated since.

Communal violence between Jewish and Arab Israelis has swept the nation with synagogues being set on fire by Arab rioters while “death to Arabs” was chanted by Jewish extremists and settler mobs as they marched through Haifa and Tiberias.

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While the plight of the Palestinians in occupied Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza has been depressingly well reported internationally, the fate of the fifth of Israelis who are Arabs has been largely overlooked. Treated often as second-class citizens by the Israeli authorities, they are increasingly unhappy about their situation.

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Israel’s government under Benjamin Netanyahu has been prepared to work with rabid anti-Arab parties and the former US President Donald Trump even suggested depriving them of their citizenship rights as part of a settlement with the Palestinians.

Hopefully the tit for tat violence between Hamas and the Israelis will end soon with a ceasefire.

Whenever that comes, the international community must once again prioritise the delivery of a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians.

It also needs to turn its attention to the treatment of Israel’s Arab citizens whose political representatives have never been part of the government in the entirety of its 73-year statehood.

Angus Robertson is SNP MSP for Edinburgh Central

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