Avigdor Liberman .
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman declared on Monday that prominent Arab MKs have no place as Israeli citizens in a statement about the centrality of land and population swaps as a critical part of any accord with the Palestinians.
Liberman has long been an advocate of transferring Arab towns close to the West Bank to any future Palestinian state as a way of reducing the Arab minority in Israel and thereby boosting the demographic advantage of its Jewish majority.
Liberman included in his list MK Basel Ghattas, who is currently facing charges of smuggling cellphones to imprisoned Palestinian terrorists; firebrand MK Haneen Zoabi; Joint List leader MK Ayman Oudeh; and convicted Islamist cleric Raed Salah.
Writing on his Facebook page, Liberman suggested that a new push for peace is on the horizon and warned against repeating what he said were the mistakes of the past.
“At the threshold of a new attempt to start up diplomatic negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, we must learn the lessons of the past, and the first lesson is: every attempt to solve the Palestinian issue on a land-for-peace basis is destined to fail,” Liberman wrote.
“The only way to a sustainable agreement is through land and population swaps as part of a larger regional peace deal,” he continued.
“It is unthinkable that a homogeneous Palestinian state will be established without a single Jew – 100% Palestinian, and that despite this Israel will be a bi-national state, with 22% Palestinians,” he stated, in reference to the assumption that any peace deal will require Jews living in settlements in Judea and Samaria to leave their homes, in similar fashion to the 2005 Gaza disengagement.
“There will be no reason for Sheikh Raed Salah, Ayman Oudeh, Basel Ghattas or Haneen Zoabi to continue to be Israeli citizens,” he concluded.
Liberman has been a long-term advocate of land transfers from Israel to any putative Palestinian state of territories with large numbers of Arab citizens, especially in the so-called “triangle” region southeast of Haifa and abutting the northwestern region of the West Bank.
The defense minister’s comments were heavily criticized, however, especially by Arab MKs.
Oudeh himself quipped that Liberman has been touted as the more moderate voice in the current government, yet is in favor of legally problematic proposals such as population transfer.
“In the extreme right-wing government of Netanyahu, the one who purports to be the responsible and sane adult is the one who is proposing forcible transfer of a civilian population,” said the Joint List leader.
“The government of settlers knows that the Arab minority will be a decisive part of the campaign to change the government, and they are obsessively engaged in threats to remove our citizenship,” Oudeh said.
“Despite Lieberman’s opposition and wrath and the rest of the madmen of the right wing, the Joint List will continue to grow and become stronger in the next elections until we have a critical mass to topple them from power,” he said.