Arab Israelis reject Trump's 'transfer' plan

Several Arab citizens, community leaders and politicians condemned the talk about placing their cities and villages under Palestinian control as racist and dangerous.

A Palestinian demonstrator points a toy gun on a poster depicting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a protest against the U.S. Middle East peace plan, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip January 28, 2020 (photo credit: REUTERS/IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA)
A Palestinian demonstrator points a toy gun on a poster depicting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a protest against the U.S. Middle East peace plan, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip January 28, 2020
(photo credit: REUTERS/IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA)
Arab-Israelis have reacted with anger, disbelief and sarcasm to US President Donald Trump’s idea of swapping the area known as the Triangle into a future Palestinian state.
Unveiled on Tuesday, Trump’s plan for Mideast peace, known as the “Deal of the Century,” leaves open the possibility that Israel will swap Arab communities in the Triangle – such as Kafr Kara, Arara, Baka al-Gharbiya, Umm al-Fahm and more – into the Palestinian state, if and when it is established.
According to the plan, Trump’s “Vision contemplates the possibility, subject to agreement of the parties, that the borders of Israel will be redrawn such that the Triangle communities become part of the State of Palestine.”
Several Arab citizens, community leaders and politicians condemned the talk about placing their cities and villages under Palestinian control as racist and dangerous.
Leaders of the Arab community are scheduled to hold consultations in the coming days to devise a plan to combat the portion of Trump’s plan that talks about the Triangle area.
They said that Arab-Israelis would fight against the plan, adding that its goal is to reduce the number of non-Jews living in the country by half.
“Trump is causing serious damage to relations between Jews and Arabs inside Israel,” they cautioned.
While some Arab politicians argued they were not surprised by the “attempt to transfer” Arabs from the country, others warned that the idea would intensify tensions between Jews and Arabs in Israel and damage efforts to achieve equality between the two communities.

“Trump and [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu are seeking to solve their problems at the expense of the Arab-Israelis,” said accountant Mahdi Abdel Jabbar, a resident of the Triangle city of Taiba. “These are two racist failed leaders who hate Arabs.”
Abdel Jabbar and many Arab citizens said they do not believe that the plan would work.
“We’re not against a Palestinian state, but this plan aims to revoke the citizenship of hundreds of thousands of Arabs simply because we’re not Jewish,” he added. “We are citizens of Israel and we want to remain so. I personally don’t want to live under the Palestinian Authority.”
In nearby Kalansuwa, many residents scoffed at the “transfer” idea.
“The Israeli government and Netanyahu are dealing with us as if we are sheep for sale in the open market,” said schoolteacher Hinadi Moussa. “They are fooling themselves and their people if they think they would find one Arab who would agree to this nonsense. Those who are trying to get rid of the Arabs today will do the same to other minorities in the future.”
“Netanyahu and Trump are implementing the racist ideology of Kahane,” said construction contractor Majdi Abu Hamad.
He was referring to New York-born Rabbi Meir Kahane, founder of the Jewish Defense League, who proposed financial compensation for Arabs who would leave voluntarily and forcible expulsion for those who refused to leave.
“Trump and Netanyahu are dreaming. They are living under an illusion if they think they can get rid of the Arab citizens here,” Abu Hamad said. “They are just trying to save themselves from impeachment and trial. No one here takes them seriously. Besides, does Israel really want to bring the Palestinian Authority and Hamas closer to Tel Aviv and Afula?”
Arara Mayor Mudar Yunis said Trump’s plan “does injustice not only to the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, but also to the Arab citizens of Israel. This is a very dangerous plan that paves the way for more dangerous schemes in the region,” Yunis argued. “If you want to place Umm el-Fahm under the Palestinian state, what about the lands surrounding Umm el-Fahm? Why not place them, too, under the control of the Palestinian state?”
“We were shocked to hear about this racist idea,” said Umm el-Fahm lawyer Saleh Mahameed. “In the past, we used to hear about the need to get rid of the Arabs from right-wing politicians in Israel, such as Avigdor Liberman and the Kahane followers. Now we are surprised to see that the man described as the leader of the free world has endorsed racism and ethnic cleansing.”
Taiba Mayor Shuaa Masarweh Mansour denounced the idea as a “nightmare” for Arab-Israelis.
“No one believes this delusional plan can be implemented,” he said. “We were born here and we will stay here. We are citizens of Israel, not enemies.”
Abdel Baset Salameh, mayor of Kalansuwa, said the plan comes at the expense of the Arab citizens.
“We are living on our land, and no one can decide for us where to live,” he said. “Trump has gone crazy. We are in favor of a just peace. The talk about removing us from our homes is nonsense. Peace can be achieved only through harmony, and not by force.”
Umm el-Fahm Mayor Samir Mahameed said that no one in the Israeli government or the Trump administration talked to the Arab-Israelis before publishing the plan.
“This is not a deal,” he remarked. “This is hysteria on the part of Netanyahu and Trump, each for his own reasons. No one talked to us about this plan. We are not temporary citizens of Israel.”
Warda Sada, an educator from the Galilee, said that a growing number of Arabs are worried about their future in the aftermath of Trump’s plan.
“Who is this Trump to decide for us where we should live?” she asked. “We are not cattle that can be moved from one place to another. Trump is sitting thousands of miles away and trying to solve our problems. He has no idea what’s going on here, and it would be better if he minded his own business.”