Three years following the October 2000 events, the Or Commission published its recommendations for the improvement of the relations between the Israeli police and the Arab society. The commission’s report made recommendations in three major areas: the treatment of Israeli Arabs as non hostile, the promotion of dialogue and cooperation between the police and the Arab society, and equal enforcement of the law in the Arab sector. This paper examined the degree to which these recommendations have been implemented in the 15 years since the issuance of the Orr Commission’s report.
With regards to the treatment of Arabs by the police, we found that the Israeli police uses excessive force towards the Arab society compared to the Jewish society. However, based on the data examined, it is hard to determine whether this is the result of discriminatory practices or the relatively high friction between the police and parts of the Arab population. In addition, the Arab sector is, to some extent, subject to over-policing. In recent years, the percentage of arrests that didn’t result in pressing charges among Israeli Arabs was significantly higher than its equivalent in the Jewish sector. These issues have probably accounted for the decline in the level of trust in the police among Israeli Arabs since 2003.
With regards to strengthening the dialogue between the police and the Arab sector, we found that government decisions aimed at expanding the Civil Guard apparatus in the Arab sector have been partially implemented. Moreover, Arab volunteers in the police make up a small part in proportion to their share in the population.
With regards to equal law enforcement in the Arab sector, we found that major Arab cities are still lacking in police stations. This is in part the result of objections by some of the Arab municipalities to allocate lands for the purpose of establishing new police stations. In addition, Arabs’ participation rate in the police force is much lower than their share in the population. Efforts to tackle these problems have been made as part of the implementation of government decision No. 922.
Our research concludes that, in the 15 years since the issuance of the Orr Commission’s report, there have been minor improvements, however, there is still a lot to be done to amend the relationship between the Israeli police and the Arab sector. For this to happen, the Israeli government should take measures against police officers who use excessive force and continue to promote equal law enforcement. It is also critical that Arab leaders and elected officials work together with the Israeli police to encourage more Israeli Arabs to join the police.
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