Israeli Arabs in the PLO?

(Al-Hayat) The reorganization of the PLO will include allocation of seats in the Palestinian National Council to Israeli-Arabs representatives. This will affect the Israeli-Palestinian political process and future relations between the two states.

Representatives of the Palestinian factions continue to negotiate the consolidation of an elaborate plan for the "revival" of the PLO. The discussions focus on reforming the Palestinian National Council (the parliament of the PLO) so that it will include legitimate representation of the entire Palestinian people.

According to the draft agreement, the council will include 350 seats, 188 of which will be allocated to the Palestinian Diaspora. Some of the latter will be assigned to representatives of the Palestinian citizens of Israel. It is yet unclear whether this representation will be full-fledged or merely symbolic.

The Re'ut Institute contends that the interfaces of the Palestinian constitutional structure with Israel will directly affect the triangle-relations between the State of Israel, its Arab citizens and the future Palestinian state. Therefore, Israel should develop a suitable policy regarding the following issues:

  • Citizenship - should Israel allow duel Israeli-Palestinian citizenship?
  • Right to Self-Determination - Will the coming into being of the Palestinian state realize the Right to Self-Determination for the entire Palestinian people, or would there still be Palestinians who claim that their Right to Self-Determination is yet to be fulfilled following the establishment of a Palestinian state?
  • Representation - Will the Palestinian state represent only its citizens and residents, or will it aspire to represent all Palestinians residing both in the territories and abroad? Will there be a division between the PLO and the Palestinian state concerning the authority to represent the Palestinian people?
  • Special Status - Will the state of Israel recognize any exceptional rights of its Arabs citizens pertaining to the Palestinian state regarding diplomatic representation, personal status issues or commerce?

In the attempt to answer these questions, The Re'ut Institute has identified two possible approaches:

  1. The Wall Approach - The erection of a juridical wall between Israeli-Arabs and the Palestinian state, intended to prevent the Palestinian state from establishing an official foothold - diplomatic, legal or political - concerning Israeli-Arabs.
  2. The Membrane Approach - This approach allows for a "penetrable membrane", which does not prevent the existence to some degree of official (or unofficial) association between Israeli-Arabs - as Palestinians - with the Palestinian state.