A Palestinian works on a building at the costal city of Ashkelon, Israel, Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
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The mayor of a southern Israeli city sparked a national uproar Thursday by barring 1948 Palestinian construction workers from jobs in local preschools, citing security concerns after a rash of attacks by Palestinian assailants elsewhere in the country.The proposal was condemned as racist by Israeli leaders, but it reflected the tense mood in the country and deepened long-standing divisions between the nation's Jewish majority and Arab minority. The workers in Ashkelon are Arab citizens of Israel, in contrast to the Palestinian attackers from the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and it appeared unlikely the order would last for long.Israeli leaders proudly boast the country is the only democracy in the Middle East, and say they place great importance on protecting the civil rights of the Arab minority, a diverse group that includes Muslims, Christians, Bedouins and Druze.But the situation for Israel's Arab citizens is complicated – particularly in the current atmosphere.
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