JERUSALEM (AP) — The Israeli military says it is inviting young Arab-Israeli Christians to enlist.

The minority historically views itself as part of the Palestinian people and considers service in the army as taboo. But a recent push by a Greek Orthodox priest to persuade more Christians to enlist has set off an emotional debate. Father Gabriel Nadaf said Christians must serve in the army if they want to integrate into Israeli society and win access to jobs.

The officer in charge of the army's campaign, Col. Gal Ben-Shaul, says Tuesday the army will now send out invitations to Arab Christians interested in joining. Military service is mandatory for Jews.

Israeli Arabs make up just over one-fifth of Israel's 8 million people. Of those about 128,000, or less than 10 percent, are Christians.