Little noticed amid the furor over one of Israel's most contentious policies, a small but growing number of Arabs are moving into Jewish settlements on occupied land in East Jerusalem, drawn by cheaper rent and better services.Hundreds, if not thousands, of Arab Israelis are moving across the "Green Line" and into "settlements."
For decades, Israel has encouraged Jews to settle in East Jerusalem, changing the population balance, provoking Palestinian anger and drawing international condemnation.
But in one such settlement, around Mount Scopus where the Hebrew University is based and many Palestinians study, about 16 percent of residents are either Arab citizens of Israel or Palestinians, according to Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics.
While the high proportion of Arab residents in French Hill and Mount Scopus is probably exceptional, the trend is visible in other East Jerusalem settlements too.
In the working-class areas of Pisgat Ze'ev and Neve Yaacov to the northeast of Jerusalem's Old City, 1 to 2 percent of residents are now Israeli Arab or Palestinian, figures show.
The Jerusalem municipality does not collect ethnic data, but Uzi Chen, the City Hall representative for northern districts, said "several hundred" Arab families live in Pisgat Ze'ev and Neve Yaakov, which have a combined population of 63,000.
So are they considered settlers? Are they "breaking international law"? Are they "illegal"?
Or is it only that Jews can be "illegal settlers?" Is it only Jews who are castigated as fanatics hell-bent on ruining the peace process when they move into certain Jerusalem neighborhoods, but Arab Israelis doing the same thing are fine?
We already know the answer to that. The former EU High Representative Catherine Ashton, during one of her condemnations of Israeli plans for building in Jerusalem, mentioned Givat Hamatos and Ramat Shlomo, but didn't say a word about Israeli plans to add units to Beit Safafa announced at the same time. The reason? Because Beit Safafa is an Arab neighborhood, and if Israeli Arabs move across the Green Line to the southern part of Beit Safafa, no Western leader would dare condemn them.
So what's that word when Jews and Arabs - both citizens of Israel - do the exact same thing but the Jews are demonized while the Arabs are applauded?