Many Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have a dream: to work or live in Israel. Some even say they are prepared to pay large sums of money to obtain Israeli citizenship.

Others pay a lot of money to Palestinian and Jewish traffickers who help them bypass checkpoints to enter Israel in search of work and good life.

These are not self-hating Palestinians. Nor are they "pro-Israel traitors" who support the Zionist movement.

Many Palestinians feel that neither Fatah nor Hamas has done enough to alleviate their suffering. Many Fatah leaders who stole billions of dollars of international donations earmarked for the Palestinians have invested their fortunes in hotels, tourist resorts and real estate firms in the West. Hamas, on the other hand, prefers to spend millions of dollars on purchasing [and smuggling] large amounts of weapons, including rockets and ammunition.

It is a disgrace for Arab and Muslim dictators, particularly those who make billions of dollars from selling oil, that their constituents have to seek work and refuge in Israel and the West. It is also a disgrace for Fatah and Hamas that thousands of Palestinians cannot find jobs or a good life in the two Palestinian states in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Arab and Islamic regimes are spending billions of dollars on building new mosques and madrasas while nearly half of their people are illiterate and live under the poverty line. University graduates in these countries are forced to search for work in the West because of poor working conditions and lack of opportunities.

The absence of good government, transparency, accountability and democracy in these countries is driving Arabs and Muslims to seek work and a better life not only in North America and Europe, but even in places like Israel.

A wealthy Arab prefers to spend millions of dollars on a private zoo than building a hospital or a university. Why should he when he and his family members could travel anytime they wish to receive medical treatment at Mayo Clinic or study at Harvard University?

In many ways, these Palestinians are not different from the African immigrants who try to infiltrate Israel every day through Egypt. The immigrants come from Sudan, Ethiopia, Eretria, Nigeria and other African countries.

Like the Palestinians, the Africans are prepared to pay a lot of money to get into Israel. Egyptian traffickers charge up to $1,000 for each immigrant.

But for the African immigrants, the journey is also a very dangerous one. In the past three years, Egyptian border guards have shot and killed dozens of African men and women who tried to cross the border into Israel.

Last week a 23-year-old Sudanese man was fatally shot by Egyptian troops as he tried to enter Israel. Another four asylum-seekers were taken into custody.

While the Egyptians are killing the African immigrants, Israel is providing the lucky ones who manage to cross the border with jobs, as well as medical and social services.

True, Israel is not 100% perfect. But an African Muslim or Christian still prefers Israel to countries like Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Iran. As a "refugee" from Darfour, Sudan, who now lives in Tel Aviv, explained: "I feel more secure in the Jewish state than in Sudan or any Arab or Islamic country."

For many Palestinians, it is easier to find a job in Israel and Canada than in any Arab or Islamic country, most of which impose strict travel and work restrictions on them. Palestinians cannot enter most Arab and Islamic countries without a visa.

One can understand why a Palestinian needs a visa to enter the US or any European country. But why does a Palestinian need a visa to visit his relatives in Syria, Lebanon and Egypt?

Many Palestinians from the West Bank who visit Arab countries often find themselves thrown into detention centers for weeks, months and years without trial. Hundreds, if not thousands, of Palestinians are believed to be languishing in prisons throughout the Arab world, especially in Syria and Egypt.

Related Topics:  Israel, Palestinian Authority  |  Khaled Abu Toameh receive the latest by email: subscribe to the free gatestone institute mailing list

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