JERUSALEM — Israeli police have given an opposition MP and a group of far-right activists the go-head to hold an anti-Arab demo in Nazareth, the largest Arab-Israeli city, a private television station said on Sunday.

MP Michael Ben Ari, of the National Union opposition party, announced that he expected to march in the company of 100 sympathisers in Nazareth next Sunday to denounce the fact Arab Israelis were exempt from military service, Channel 10 said.

The police authorised the protest despite the very high risk of violence, saying it planned to deploy its forces heavily in the city in northern Israel, the broadcaster added.

A police spokesman, contacted by AFP, was unable to confirm the information.

Ben Ari launched his plan in the middle of a heated political debate on whether ultra-Orthodox Jews and Arab Israelis should do compulsory military or community service.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, under pressure from public opinion and threatened by a political crisis, announced on Sunday that he would back a controversial plan obliging them to do so.

The government will now move towards drafting a law that will replace the so-called Tal Law, which contained national service exemptions for ultra-Orthodox Jews and Arab Israelis, but was overturned by Israel's High Court earlier this year.

Ben Ari and the far-right Jewish activists who accompany him have already organised controversial demonstrations in the northern Arab-Israeli city of Umm al-Fahm and the Palestinian east Jerusalem neighbourhood of Silwan.

Photo by Yossi Gurvitz via Flickr