Army ‘to actively recruit’ Christian Palestinian citizens of Israel
BETHLEHEM – In a new policy, Palestinian Christian citizens of Israel will begin receiving army conscription papers, Israeli media said Tuesday.
Israeli news site The Times of Israel quoted Army Radio as saying that though joining the Israeli army would remain voluntary for Christians, they would now be receiving recruitment papers starting at the age of 16.
Previously, a decades-old policy required Palestinian Christian citizens of Israel to initiate contact with the army if they wanted to join, the Times of Israel report said.
In February, the Israeli Knesset passed a bill that created an identity marker for Christians, separating them from the “Arab” identifier previously used for all Palestinian citizens of Israel.
“It’s a historic and important step that could balance the State of Israel and connect us to the Christians, and I am careful not to refer to them as Arabs, because they are not Arabs,” bill sponsor Likud MK Yariv Levin said in January.
Christians are “our natural allies,” Levin said, adding that Muslims “want to destroy the state (of Israel) from within.”
PLO executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi, herself a Christian, condemned the law as an effort to divide the Palestinian community.