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Palestinians in Israel condemn plan to recruit Christians

April 23, 2014 12:02 P.M. (Updated: April 24, 2014 7:23 P.M.)
HAIFA (Ma'an) -- Several Israel-based organizations on Wednesday condemned a new campaign to recruit Palestinian Christian citizens of the country to serve in the military.

In a joint statement, more than 15 Palestinian youth movements and community organizations said the Israeli move was an effort to divide Palestinian citizens of Israel from their own people.

The groups said they would "struggle against (the campaign for) enlistment in the Israeli army" to ensure that such divisions would not occur.

"We are confident that young Arabs will reject all recruitment plans. This dangerous escalation by the Israeli institution will only make young Arabs more loyal to their people and their national identity."

The groups urged all Palestinian organizations of influence, in addition to the leadership of Palestinian towns within Israel, to play an active role in raising awareness about "plans for Israelization" of Palestinians by recruiting them to join the military.

The statement comes a day after army radio reported that Israel would adopt a new policy of actively recruiting Christians.

In February, parliament approved a law giving Muslim and Christian Palestinians separate representation on a national employment commission, drawing fire from Palestinian MKs.

"The measure was to be expected following the campaign by the Israel right to divide Christians from their own people by encouraging them to think that they are not Arabs," said Bassel Ghattas, a member of parliament for the communist Hadash party.

He urged Christians who received call-up papers to "send them back or publicly burn them, because the next step could be compulsory military or community service."

Israel's Palestinian community, which makes up some 20 percent of the population, are the descendants of the 160,000 Palestinians who remained on their land after the majority of the Palestinian population was forcibly displaced by Jewish militias during the creation of Israel in 1948.

They complain of routine discrimination, particularly in housing, land access, and employment.

AFP contributed to this report.
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