The citizenship status of its Arab citizens is the key to Israel's ability to function as an ethnic democracy, that is, a political system combining democratic institutions with the dominance of one ethnic group. The confluence of republicanism and ethnonationalism with liberalism, as principles of legitimation, has resulted in two types of citizenship: republican for Jews and liberal for Arabs. Thus, Arab citizens enjoy civil and political rights but are barred from attending to the common good.
The Arab citizenship status, while much more restricted than the Jewish, has both induced and enabled Arabs to conduct their political struggles within the framework of the law, in sharp contrast to the noncitizen Arabs of the occupied territories. It may thus serve as a model for other dominant ethnic groups seeking to maintain both their dominance and a democratic system of government.