The Greek Orthodox church has officially dismissed a Palestinian priest who publicly promoted service in the Israeli army, by Christians, according to a church spokesman.
Spokesman Issa Musleh said that ecclesiastical authorities decided, this past Tuesday, to sack Father Gabriel Nadaf from his post in Nazareth, but were only now making their decision public, according to the Palestinian News Network.
He noted that no written announcemnet had been given to Nadaf. ‘We announce this now,’ he said.
Last month, Israel said that it would start sending enlistment papers to all Christian Arabs of military service age.
Nadaf welcomed the move, while Palestinian MKs, angered by the proclamation, accused the Israeli government of seeking to divide Christians from Muslims.
Currently, about 100 Christian Palestinians who are Israeli citizens volunteer for military service each year, the PNN reports. Over 1.3 million Muslim citizens would not be sent papers at all, according to Musleh.
Service would not be manditory for the 130,000 Christian Palestinians who are Israeli citizens, as it is for Jews, according to an army spokesman.
About 10 percent of Palestinian citizens of Israel are also Christians, while the majority are Muslims and Druze.
And, although the majority of Palestinians were expelled from their homes during the 1948 conflict which led to the creation of the state of Israel, some managed to remain and their descendants, today, make up around 20 percent of Israel’s population.
Christian Arabs are reported to make about up about 10% of Syria’s population where, as a result of the Syrian civil war, with some 235,000 Palestinians having been displaced in Syria itself and 60,000, alongside 2.2 million Syrians, who fled the country, as of October 2013.
Palestinians are the largest refugee group in the world, according to UN statistics which, by 2010, had designated nearly 5 million Palesinians with official refugee status.