Foreign Diplomats to Rally With Israeli Arabs Marking October 2000 Riots

Sources say foreign envoys wished to remain anonymous so to avoid possible Israel pressure.

Representatives of foreign governments stationed in Israel plan to participate in a rally marking the Israeli Arab riots of October 2000, Haaretz learned on Monday, in a diplomatic first in Israel's history.

The Higher Arab Monitoring Committee has said that the representatives of about ten embassies have approached it over recent days, expressing their intent to tour Arab towns on Thursday, when the rally will be held.

During the disturbances, which coincided with the outbreak of the second intifada, Israeli police killed 13 Arab youths. Thursday's event is set to take place in the Israeli Arab village of Arabeh.

According to sources in the committee, the foreign envoys asked to remain anonymous, so as to thwart any attempts by the Israeli government to pressure them into canceling their participation.

The committee sources added that the participation of foreign diplomats represented a turning point in the way world that the world treated relations between Israel's Arab population and the state.

The committee's general director, Abed Anabtawi, told Haaretz that the organization had in fact received responses from foreign representative who wishes to remain anonymous.

"This is the first time that we have seen such interest in the issue," the committee's general director, Abed Anabtawi, told Haaretz.

"Some of the embassy representatives announced that they will be touring Arab villages and their intent to take part in the parade," Anabtawi added. "The list includes representatives from ten countries, some of them central and influential."

About a month ago, The Higher Arab Monitoring Committee decided to declare a general strike in all Israeli Arab communities on Thursday, October 1st.

Committee sources said that the decision was made in response to a string of anti-Arab decisions and events over the passing year.

Mohammed Zidan, the committee's chairman, informed foreign diplomats in Israel of the strike in a letter. He listed the reasons that led to the decision to strike, citing, among other things, laws and regulations that were "racist," such as a law which prohibits the commemoration of the Nakba; a recent national land reform, and its consequences for Palestinian refugees; and the initiative to change the names of Arab towns and villages to Hebrew names.

The Israeli Arab leader also mentioned the demolition of Arab homes, as well as limiting the jurisdiction of Arab councils; a "rising atmosphere of hate and racism against the Arab population"; and the continued occupation of the West Bank and Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Committee sources said that along with the Knesset's Arab factions, it was enlisting every possible resource toward the success of the parade and the general strike.