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Israeli Arabs 'proud' to be Israeli, but report widespread incitement: poll

FILE - In this Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015 file photo, an Israeli Arab youth jumps into the water at the old port of Jaffa, a mixed Jewish-Arab part of Tel Aviv, Israel.
AP Photo/Oded Balilty, File
Most respondents said they would be happy for their kids to attend schools alongside Jewish Israelis

A strong majority of Arab citizens in Israel are "proud" to be Israelis, yet just over half believe the Jewish state has no right to exist, a poll published Wednesday in a local newspaper found. 

The telephone survey 426 Israeli Arabs aged 18 and over was conducted by the New Wave Research Institute and published in the right-wing Israel Hayom newspaper, which reported it was a representative sample of Israel's roughly 1.6 million-strong Arab minority and had a margin of error of 4.7%. 

Sixty per cent of respondents said they were "very proud" or "fairly proud" to be Israelis, and 73% felt a "sense of belonging", according to the newspaper. 

Despite that finding, a mere 3% identified themselves as simply "Israeli", with 46% saying they were Israeli Arabs, and 24% Palestinian Arabs. 

Israeli-Arabs often complain of discrimination in Israel, which was founded as a homeland for the world's Jews and whose institutions and symbols are overwhelmingly Jewish. 

Reflecting this, the survey found that "most" felt there was anti-Arab incitement among Israeli Jews, and only a handful said that there was widespread anti-Jewish sentiment among the Arab populace. 

AP Photo/Ariel Schalit

On the issue of Israel's right to exist -- the wording of the questions was not revealed by the newspaper -- Israeli Arabs were almost evenly split, with those who opposed Israel's right to exist just edging out those who support it. The poll also found "sweeping" support for the return of Palestinians and their descendants who left their homes in what is now Israel during the 1948 War of Independence. 

Israeli governments are particularly fearful of allowing the so-called Palestinian "Right of Return" in the framework of a peace agreement because it would jeopardize the current Jewish majority. 

The survey also found that a small number of respondents, just 14%, want to live under Palestinian jurisdiction. Eighty two per cent said they preferred to remain under Israeli governance.

According to the poll, 65% said they were not religious, while 35% said they were, and that the vast majority have Jewish friends and have no compunction about sending their kids to school with Jews. 

Education in Israel are typically divided along religious lines, with separate schools for Jews, Muslims, Christians, although some mixed institutions exist. 

The poll did not include Druze residents, a minority Muslim sect spread across Israel, Lebanon and Syria who are notably active in the Israel Defense Forces, in which the vast majority of Israeli Arabs do not serve. 

According to Israel Hayom, a sample of Arab East Jerusalem residents was conducted, which found little sense of belonging to Israeli society. However the results for that survey were not published. 

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