When it comes to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, the world has mostly focused on violence between the two communities in Jerusalem and in the West Bank. But there is another player in the conflict, one that is becoming increasingly important: Arab citizens of Israel. More and more, Arab Israelis identify with Palestinian nationalism. With their needs and demands increasingly tied to the Palestinian cause, resolving the conflict becomes much more difficult.
Since October 1, a wave of violence has washed over Jerusalem. In tens of incidents, Palestinians have attacked Israeli civilians and soldiers, leaving several Israelis and Palestinians dead. The immediate cause of the sustained violence was the increase in Jewish Israeli activity near the Temple Mount/Noble Sanctuary beginning with the High Holidays in September and a (false) rumor that Israel was trying to change the status quo in the area by, among other things, building a Jewish temple on top of the mosques there. But tensions had been simmering before September due to a recent spate of settler attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank. The ongoing occupation, outbreaks of violence between Israel and Hamas—most recently in the summer of 2014—and an increase in anti-Arab rhetoric and attacks in Israel itself have entrenched hostility among Palestinians, while the Palestinian leadership has purposely fanned all of these flames, creating an atmosphere of encouragement for attacks against Jews.
Things heated up still further on October 14, when Arab Israelis held a rally in northern Israel against the government’s policies, and the community’s leaders called for a general strike. The last time the Arab sector protested in such large numbers over religious tensions and Israeli-Palestinian violence was in October 2000. The result of those marches was widespread riots and violence between Arabs and Israeli police and between Arab and Jewish citizens. Over the course of nine days, 13 Arab Israelis were killed.
In its final report, the Or Commission, which was created to investigate the October events, blamed decades of harmful
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