Netanyahu told to integrate Arab Israelis
Saleh Naami in Gaza, Monday 20 Dec 2010
Meeting of prime minister and security chiefs spells out the danger of alienating Arab Israeli community while a poll highlights the attitudes they have to endure

A high level confidential meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, three of his ministers, security officers and chiefs from the Israeli Security Agency (Shabak) has urged for intensified efforts in accommodating Arab Israelis in the country in an attempt to curb tendencies of fundamentalism in their midst.

Arab Israelis, also known as "Palestinians of '48" in reference to Palestinians who did not flee or were not forced out from their homes and chose to remain in Israel after its declaration of independence in 1948.

The meeting came as a response to an earlier declaration by Shabak which had monitored recent trends of growing extremism within Arab Israeli communities.

The Israeli daily Haaretz reported on Monday that the meeting was intended to review general trends among Arab Israelis. Discussions revolved mainly around the latest racist Israeli legislations which were mainly meant to draw the red lines for Arab Israelis.

Participants in the meeting actually named the citizenship law which sets loyalty to Israel - as a Jewish Democratic state - as a pre-condition for citizenship.

What emerged as a particular worry for attendees to the meeting is the growing secessionist tendency within Arab Israelis, apparent in the calls of their elites to declare Israel "a state for all its citizens,'' a suggestion that is rejected by all Jewish groups represented in the Knesset.

For his part, Netanyahu warned that the demographic threat ofArab Israelisis much more serious than the threat of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

A recent poll revealed that more than 50% of Israelis approve a plan to encourage Arab Israelis to emigrate from Israel.