Palestinians today even within the borders of Israel/Palestine fall into different categories:

  1. Palestinians/Arab citizens of Israel (about 1,650,000 people), just over 20% of the Israeli population. These are the Palestinians who remained within the borders of the Jewish state and their descendants. At first they lived under a form of martial law, but gradually more and more rights were granted to them. While they don’t have quite the same rights as Israeli Jews, they still have the right to vote, to run for office, to serve in the military (though they are not required to do so nor encouraged to do so). They can lease or buy land in Israel but in practice those who do have problems registering their ownership and face other bureaucratic obstables.
  2. Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem (about 370,000 people) to which must be added 220,000 Jewish settlers. The city is largely segregated between Arabs and Jews, so there is little social contact. These are Palestinians who lived in East Jerusalem when it was under Jordanian rule as was the rest of the West Bank and their descendants.  After conquering the West Bank in the June 1967 war, Israel annexed East Jerusalem and as such they should have received Israeli citizenship automatically. This did not happen and they became permanent residents. Palestinian East Jerusalemites can receive Israeli citizenship but do not do so for political reasons. Permanent Permanent residency confers fewer rights than citizenship. It entitles the holder to live and work in Israel and to receive social benefits under the National Insurance Law, as well as health insurance. But, permanent residents cannot participate in national elections – either as voters or as candidates – and cannot run for the office of mayor, although they are entitled to vote in local elections and to run for city council. Permanent residents are required to submit requests for ‘family reunification’ for spouses who are not residents themselves. Since 1967, Israel has maintained a strict policy on requests of East Jerusalem Palestinians for ‘reunification’ with spouses from other parts of the West Bank, from Gaza or from other countries. In July 2003, the Knesset passed a law barring these spouses from receiving permanent residency, other than extreme exceptions. The law effectively denies Palestinians from East Jerusalem, who are permanent residents of Israel the possibility of living in East Jerusalem with spouses from Gaza or from other parts of the West Bank, and denies their children permanent residency status. Israeli policy in East Jerusalem is geared toward pressuring Palestinians to leave, thereby shaping a geographical and demographic reality that would thwart any future attempt to challenge Israeli sovereignty there. Palestinians who do leave East Jerusalem, due to this policy or for other reasons, risk losing their permanent residency and the attendant social benefits.
  3. Palestinians living in the West Bank (about 2,700,000 people. These are the rest of the Palestinians who lived in the West Bank when it was under Jordanian rule, and their descendants. They can be considered as citizens of the state of Palestine. Basically they are governed by Fatah. They can obtain a Palestinian Passport, however the passport issuance is subject to additional restrictions imposed by the Israeli government.
  4. Palestinians living in Gaza (about 1,800,000). These are the Palestinians who lived in Gaza when it was under Egyptian rule and their descendants. Both in this case and in the case of the Palestinians in the West Bank many are Palestinian refugees from land which is now part of the State of Israel. Refugees from both the 1948 and the 1967 war. They are governed by Hamas. The residents of Gaza are more or less trapped in Gaza.
  5. Palestinian refugees of the 1948 war and their descendants who are tracked by the UN organization UNRWA. There are such refugees in Gaza (1,106, 195) and the West Bank (778,993), but also others outside Israel/Palestine in Jordan (1,983,733), Syria (472,109) and Lebanon (425, 640).
  6. Palestinians that live in diaspora in countries throughout the world. In total about 11,000,000 people (including all the above categories as well.

On the Jewish side:

  1. Israeli Jews (about 6,100,000 people 75% of the Israeli population).
  2. Jewish population in diaspora (about 13, 500,000 people, including the above Israelis). Based on the Israeli Law of Return anyone who is Jewish (that is born of a Jewish mother or converted to Orthodox Judaism) as well as their children and grand children can immigrate to Israel along with their respective spouses, and receive citizenship. Though in the case of anyone not born of a Jewish mother nor converted to Orthodox Judaism they will not receive Jewish status. In practice this means that any Jewish person can immigrate to Israel if they wish to (and assuming they can find a job and/or support themselves).
  3. Of the Jewish population in Israel there are those who live within the 1967 borders, about 5,600,000 people and those who live in what are called the occupied territories. These people, who are called settlers are divided roughly as follows: 320,000 in West Bank excluding East Jerusalem, 220,000 in East Jerusalem (10 settlements) and 20,000 in Golan Heights (Syrian territory captured by Israel). Of the settlers in the West Bank, almost 90% live in the major settlement blocks, which are well connected to Israel by road (many of them are considered suburbs of Jerusalem). The rest live in scattered settlements. Back in 2000/2001, the Palestinians were willing to give up their claims on the 78% of the land that Israel conquered in 1948 and were willing to waive the rights of the refugees and their descendants to return, but they were not willing to give up significant parts of the other 22/ of the land.


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