Israel Studies Seminar: MT20 Week 3: Hadeel Abu Hussein (Oxford): Palestinian Arab Citizens in Israel, Equality Struggle

Convener: Yaacov Yadgar

Speaker: Hadeel Abu Hussein (Oxford)


This paper addresses the historical stages of the Palestinian Arab citizens in Israel with respect to their political formation and social experience as individuals and a collective starting from 1948, until nowadays. These stages of demographic change that transformed Palestinians from a majority into a minority in their homeland caused massive demographic changes.

The Israeli-Arab conflicts that characterise the region have had a significant effect on the relationship between Palestinian Arab citizens in Israel and the State of Israel’s distinguished treatment of Jewish citizens. An examination of the history leading up to the current Israeli- Palestinian conflict provides a useful backdrop to the current status of Palestinian Arab citizens in Israel. Today’s Palestinian Arab citizens in Israel are Palestinians who have remained within the “Green Line” after being physically separated from Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It is estimated that they make up approximately 1,770,000 residents, which comprises of 20.8% of the entire population. They belong to three religions: Muslim, Christian and Druze. The first section of the paper offers a historical background from 1948 to the Six-Day war of 1967 and Jerusalem, exploring the foundation of the State of Israel and the status of the Palestinian Arab citizen in Israel. It will outline the demographic changes that occurred as a result of the war. The second section, turns to the status of Palestinian Arab citizens in Israel, focusing on discrimination in various fields, such as citizenship, the Arabic language, political participation, education and employment. It then turns to land and property rights, with a general observation on the legal regime in Israel.

Arab Israeli citizens are trapped between their Palestinian ethnicity and their Israeli civic identity. The history-building project of the Israeli State competes for space with the Palestinian search for recognition and identity. Therefore, the Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel continued to be excluded from participating fully in the socio-economic and decision-making institutions of Israel. The marginalisation of the Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel is represented in various ways across the civil and political landscape and is reflected in the socio-economic status of the Palestinian Arab citizens in Israel. An audit of the definition of the State of Israel, as a Jewish and democratic state, requires a more complex underpinning, one of which ethnicity/race continues to play a primary role in the definition of the concept of the citizen in Israel. Citizens may be included or excluded from the political decision-making and socio-economic institutions.


Dr Hadeel Abu Hussein is a female lawyer who is currently a research fellow at the Middle East Centre, St Antony's College, University of Oxford. In addition, she is an Early Career Fellow, Bonavero Institute of Human Rights, Mansfield College, Oxford Law Faculty. Her doctoral research, undertaken at the Irish Centre for Human Rights National University of Ireland, Galway, examined the evolution of land law within ethnic states and international law. She was previously a senior research fellow at the Max Planck Institute Foundation for International Peace and the Rule of Law, Heidelberg, Germany, for the Middle East & North Africa projects. In the academic year 2018-2019, she was Research Visitor, at Bonavero Institute of Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Oxford. Hadeel studied LL. B and LL.M degrees at Tel Aviv University; she is a member of the Israeli lawyer’s bar. Moreover, she completed an Executive Education program at the Wharton Business School and Penn Law at the University of Pennsylvania. While at the National University of Ireland she was a Doctorate Fellow, where she taught international human rights law and minority rights. Following that, she spent time as a postgraduate visitor at Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law, Heidelberg, Germany. Alongside her research, Hadeel practices human rights law and constitutional law in Israel/Palestine, and she still collaborating with human rights organisations and international civil society organisations as legal advisor and volunteer.

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