Mughrabi Gate Bridge: Bridge between Israeli Arabs and Palestinian National Movement?

Israeli Arab involvement in Mughrabi Gate issue expresses emerging trends regarding Israel's relationship with its Arab citizens, with consequences beyond internal Israeli politics.

Against the backdrop of construction at the Mughrabi Gate in Jerusalem, the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee (considered the representative of the Israeli Arab public) announced that it does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over East Jerusalem. The Committee stated that "neither the Israeli Government nor any other Israeli institution has the legal, political or sovereign right to act in occupied Jerusalem" (Ha'aretz, 2/11/07).

The Reut Institute contends that Israeli Arab involvement in the Mughrabi Gate issue is an expression of several emerging trends relating to the State of Israel's relationship with its Arab citizens, that have consequences that supersede internal Israeli politics.

What is the Issue?

Israeli Arabs have spearheaded the opposition to Israeli construction work around the Mughrabi Gate. The Monitoring Committee and the Northern Faction of the Islamic Movement in Israel initiated demonstrations on the Temple Mount and across the country, and called for the involvement of international organizations on their behalf.

Why is this Important? Why Now?

The construction work in Jerusalem has highlighted several trends among Israeli Arabs that have political significance:

  • Palestinization of Israeli Arabs - In the document 'The Future Vision of the Palestinian Arabs in Israel' (hereinafter, 'Future Vision Document') published in December by the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee and the Committee of Arab Local Council Heads, Israeli Arabs defined themselves as part of the Palestinian people.

    Despite this, their claims in the 'Future Vision Document' do not address the 'outstanding issues' between Israel and the Palestinian National Movement, such as Jerusalem.

    The Higher Arab Monitoring Committee's challenge to Israeli Sovereignty in Jerusalem may testify to growing ties between Israeli Arabs and the Palestinian National Movement, and may indicate an increasing involvement of Israeli Arabs in 'outstanding issues' between Israel and the Palestinians.
  • Internationalization of the issue of Israeli Arabs - A Reut Position Paper (6/05) contended that the issue of Israeli Arabs has been undergoing a process of internationalization. The calls for the involvement of the international community on the Mughrabi Gate issue, as well as demands in the 'Future Vision Document' for Israeli Arabs to receive representation in international organizations, testify to this continued trend.

    The significance for Israel is that the center of gravity in dealing with the Israeli Arab issue is moving away from the State of Israel, where it is dealt with as an internal matter, towards the international arena where it is exposed to surveillance, criticism and international involvement.

Although the issue of Israeli Arabs is supposedly an internal Israeli issue, the combination of the growing trends of Palestinization and internationalization, have significant strategic consequences that relate to the relations between Israel, the Palestinian National Movement and the International Community.

Policy Options

Updating the National Security Concept - The issue of Israeli Arabs requires updating Israel's National Security Concept as well as re-evaluating the place of Israeli Arabs in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Formulating policies to deal with Internationalization - Israel should formulate clear and consistent policies towards the internationalization of Israeli Arabs. For example, Israel needs to decide how to react to the decision of the European Union Parliament to raise the issue of Israeli Arabs in all its official meetings with Israel (5/05).

Social-Economic-Civic equality - Israel should work towards implementing the Or Commission's recommendations and equal rights for its Arab citizens, in order to 'neutralize' at least some of the causes of discontent among Israeli Arabs.

Cross Agency Coordination – Currently, the issue of Israeli Arabs is dealt with by a number of governmental offices not coordinated with one another. Israel must work towards continuous inter agency coordination in the planning, decision making and implementation.