Leaders of Israel’s Palestinian minority have accused the Israeli authorities of intensifying efforts to push Christian and Muslim communities into conflict, as part of a long-running divide-and-rule strategy towards the country’s Palestinian citizens.
The allegations have been prompted by a series of initiatives to pressure Christian school-leavers into the army, breaking the community’s blanket rejection of the Israel army draft for the past 65 years.
Leaders from the Palestinian community, Christian and Muslim, who have spoken against this new enlistment effort have been called in for investigation by Israel’s secret police. In an Orwellian inversion, they have been accused of “incitement to violence.”
The issue first came to prominence last October when the defense ministry quietly staged a conference close to Nazareth, the effective capital of Palestinians in Israel, to promote military service among Christians.
The participation of three local clergymen in the conference sent shock waves through the Muslim and Christian communities.
The move was seen as a prelude to launching a more general recruitment drive amongPalestinian Christians. Currently both Christians and Muslims, comprising nearly a fifth of Israel’s population, are exempt from conscription.