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Wednesday, January 12 2011

Memo to EU Consuls: Eastern Jerusalem Palestinians Want Israeli Citizenship

A poll of Palestinians living in eastern Jerusalem finds that an awful lot of them would like to have Israeli citizenship.

See the detailed results at the Pechter Mideast Polls, as well as Jackson Diehl, who discusses the numbers. An estimated 270,000 Palestinians live in eastern Jerusalem. Here's a vertical rundown:

• "30 percent said they would prefer to be citizens of Palestine in a two-state solution . . ."

• "35 percent said they would choose Israeli citizenship . . ."

• "Forty percent said they would consider moving to another neighborhood in order to become a citizen of Israel rather than Palestine . . ."

• ". . . 54 percent said that if their neighborhood were assigned to Israel, they would not move to Palestine."

Diehl's response:

The reasons for these attitudes are pretty understandable, even healthy. Arabs say they prefer Israel's jobs, schools, health care and welfare benefits to those of a Palestinian state -- and their nationalism is not strong enough for them to set aside these advantages in order to live in an Arab country. The East Jerusalemites don't much love Israel -- they say they suffer from discrimination. But they seem to like what it has to offer.

Somebody notify the meddling EU diplomats who want to step up their own involvement in eastern Jerusalem affairs.

UPDATE 12:55 p.m: Shortly after posting this, I spotted a related AP dispatch: Some Jerusalem Palestinians taking Israeli citizenship to protect welfare, residency rights:

The numbers of those who have applied for Israeli citizenship are still small — only hundreds per year. But in recent years, there has been a steady increase.

Over the past five years, about 3,000 Palestinians applied for Israeli citizenship, and about 2,300 received it, according to the Israeli Interior Ministry. The number of Palestinians granted Israeli citizenship has increased each year during that time, from 147 in 2006 to 690 in 2010.

Interior Ministry spokeswoman Sabine Hadad said about 13,000 of east Jerusalem's Arab residents, or roughly 5 percent, now hold Israeli citizenship.

Though the numbers are meager compared with the total 260,000 Palestinians who live in east Jerusalem, they may indicate an undercurrent of concern about their future.



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