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Majority of Israelis Say Arabs Should Leave 

A recently-released poll in Israel indicates a majority of Israeli Jews want Israeli Arabs to leave the country. Some Israeli Arabs say the poll results are a cause for concern.

The annual poll carried out by the Israel Democracy Institute looks at Israeli's attitudes towards their democracy. This year the poll found that 62 percent of Israeli Jews agreed with the statement, "The government should encourage Arabs to emigrate".

A senior Institute fellow and a City University of New York political science professor, Asher Arian, says the results indicate Israeli Arabs are not full participants in Israel's democracy.

"That is the important point that Israeli democracy is in a fragile state and is still dominated by the split between Jews and Arabs," he said. "My guess is that we will not be able to address that question until the larger question of relations with the Palestinians is resolved."

Arian says this year's poll numbers are similar to those in the past that indicate a majority of Israeli Jews mistrust their Israeli-Arab fellow citizens who make up about 20 percent of Israel's population of seven million people.

Israeli-Arab leaders say the poll results point to a failure of Israel's educational system and confirm that Israel's Arabs are second-class citizens in their own country.

Faisal Azaiza who heads the Jewish-Arab Center at Haifa University says he believes the poll clearly shows that many Israeli Jews fear the Jewish majority could be threatened by Arabs.

"The majority in the Jewish community, they continue to be afraid of the status of the country as a Jewish state. And you see it now by this figure that shows 62 percent of the Jewish population of the country, they agree that the government be encouraged to push Arabs outside of the country," said Azaiza.

Azaiza says a decision Sunday by Israel's Supreme Court to uphold a controversial law that barred some Palestinians who marry Israeli-Arabs citizens from living in Israel is a good example of the discrimination Arabs face in their daily lives. In its decision to uphold the ban the court agreed with Israel's government that said allowing young Palestinians to move into Israel by marrying Israeli Arabs amounted to an unacceptable security threat for Israelis.

Asher Arian says the democracy poll shows that both Israeli Arabs and Jews agree that Israel's government has not done enough to promote equal rights for Israel's Arab citizens. He also points out the poll indicates Israel's public is losing confidence in its politicians, with less than a quarter believing their elected leaders care about the concerns of voters.