|Photo by: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman|
Abbas rebuffs Liberman proposals for land swaps
By GIL HOFFMAN
Peres rejects FM's idea of exchanging heavily Arab-populated areas in pre-1967 lines for additional West Bank land.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas rejected Foreign Minister Avigdor
Liberman’s idea of swapping heavily Arab-populated land in pre-1967 Israel for
additional West Bank territory, in a meeting on Wednesday with MK Ahmed Tibi
(United Arab List-Ta’al).
Liberman’s proposal was a provocation, Abbas
The idea had not been raised in American-mediated negotiations
with Israel, and if it would, it would be completely rejected, the PA president
Liberman mocked Arab MKs and other Israeli Arabs for criticizing
his proposal, in a statement on his Facebook page.
He said they had
suddenly decided that Zionist leader Theodor Herzl was their hero and the
national anthem “Hatikva” was their favorite song.
“The Arabs of Wadi Ara
have become Lovers of Zion,” Liberman wrote mockingly.
residents of Umm el-Fahm who want to mark Independence Day as a catastrophe with
black flags instead of Israeli flags, the same people who hoist pictures of
[Hezbollah leader Hassan] Nasrallah and Hamas and Hezbollah flags are now complaining about
becoming citizens of a Palestinian state as part of a peace
Liberman criticized Abbas for not wanting Israeli Arabs as
Palestinian citizens after insisting on the release of Israeli Arab terrorists
from Israeli prisons. He also slammed “Leftist snobs and a number of hangers-on”
for protesting the possibility of Israeli Arabs’ citizenship being changed
without them having to move, after not complaining about Gush Katif settlers
being expelled from their homes.
The “hangers-on” Liberman was thought to have been referring to
were Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar, who came out against his proposal on a tour
of Sakhnin on Tuesday, and Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir, who was also
Liberman’s veiled criticism of Sa’ar and Shamir was
significant, because Sa’ar is the No. 2 man in the Likud and Shamir is
Liberman’s No. 2 in Yisrael Beytenu.
President Shimon Peres called
Liberman’s proposal “neither practical nor principled.”
Israel had no
right to remove citizenship from Israeli Arabs, he said.
A fiery debate
was held on Liberman’s proposal in the Knesset plenum on
Hadash leader Muhammad Barakei called the proposal racist,
because it is intended to minimize the number of Arabs within Israel’s final
borders. Israeli Arabs cannot be equated with West Bank settlers because Israeli
Arabs have lived on their land for hundreds of years, Barakei
“There is only one place for Liberman’s proposal: The dustbin of
history,” he said.
Tibi said the struggle against fascism and racism
belonged to both Jews and Arabs, who together would defeat “these delusional