Jerusalem: European Union ambassadors in Israel have voiced concern about the Jewish state's treatment of its Arab minority, in an unprecedented report on the issue. "While the international community is focused predominantly on restarting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, we should see Israel's treatment of its minorities as a core issue, not second tier to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," the confidential 27-page study said.

"Israel's Arab population is measurably worse off than its non-Arab majority in terms of income, education, housing and access to land," it said.

Although the European Union has repeatedly published reports on conditions of Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, this is its first on the 1.37 million Arab citizens of Israel.

They are the remainder of or descendants of Palestinians who did not flee or were not driven out during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war accompanying the foundation of the Jewish state.

They make up slightly more than 20 per cent of Israel's present population.

The EU document cited data from the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics showing that average incomes in the Israeli-Arab community in 2008 amounted to only 61 per cent of those of Jewish households.

(Agencies)