FM: Peace talks should cover future of Israeli Arabs

Lieberman says formula for negotiations with Palestinians should not be ‘land for peace,’ but territory and population exchange; MK Zoabi: Israel Beiteinu leader believes in ethnic cleansing.

lieberman threatening 311 (photo credit: AP)
lieberman threatening 311
(photo credit: AP)
With Israeli and Palestinian teams meeting in Washington this week to organize the next meeting between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the issue of Israeli Arabs should be placed very high up on the agenda of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
Lieberman, speaking before Sunday’s cabinet meeting, said that the expressed adamant refusal of the Arab league and the PA to recognize Israel as the nationstate of the Jewish people because of the concern that this would harm the status of Israeli Arabs, their demand for a right for Palestinian refugees and their descendents to move to Israel, coupled with the behavior of Haneen Zoabi (Balad) and other Arab MKs who he said were fighting Zionism, made it incumbent to place the issue of Israeli Arabs in the center of the negotiations with the Palestinians.
RELATED:Lieberman: Coalition won't extend building freeze Lieberman: We won’t have peace for generations
It is impossible to run away from this issue, he said. “This is like someone who sells his apartment but insists that his mother-in-law will continue to live in it.
It is impossible,” the foreign minister said.
Lieberman, repeating a mantra he has been saying for months, said the guiding principle of the negotiations should not be land for peace, but the exchange of territories and populations.
Lieberman, who said once a deal with the Palestinians is reached the Israeli Arabs will demand their own form of autonomy, has argued for a re-drawing of the borders, so that the vast majority of Israeli-Arab cities and towns will be drawn into a Palestinian state, and the bulk of the settlements will be drawn into Israel. His plan calls not for the physical transfer of people, but for a drastic readjustment of the borders.
Lieberman said that while he believes a loyal citizen of Israel – Muslim, Christian or Jew – should be able to hold any position, including in the air force or the Mossad, MKs like Zoabi should “become citizens of a Palestinian state and get elected to the parliament in Gaza, with Hamas, or in Ramallah.
Zoabi retorted by saying that Israeli Arabs are not here “by virtue of Lieberman.”
“Our rights in our homeland are not dependent on Lieberman’s beliefs and not on the definitions of the State of Israel, but are drawn from the fact that we live in our homeland,” she said.
“Lieberman’s plan is to weaken the Palestinians who remained in their homeland; he believes in apartheid and ethnic cleansing, beliefs of racists. In contrast, the principle guiding me and my party is that of full equality, which is impossible unless the state does not discriminate between citizens, something that contradicts the definition of the state as Jewish and democratic. It is good that Lieberman never misses an opportunity to prove this contradiction," Zoabi said.
“I do, however, agree with Lieberman that the topic of the Palestinians in Israel and the topic of defining Israel as a Jewish state are subjects that should be placed on the agenda of any negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis,” she continued. “The Palestinian question is the question that began with the establishment of the State of Israel and not with the conquest of 1967.”
MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List) also blasted the foreign minister, saying that “it is very serious when a deputy prime minister, a settler, deals constantly with plans to expel citizens. We were here before the fascist immigrant Lieberman, and we will remain here afterwards.”
Minorities Affairs Minister Avishay Braverman (Labor) also slammed Lieberman, saying the foreign minister, like Netanyahu, knew there would never be a population exchange. Nevertheless, he said, “the damage he is causing Israel in the world, and [to] the delicate fabric between Jews and Arabs, is unbearable.”
Lieberman, who left last night for a one-day visit to Prague, will be Israel’s keynote speaker at the UN General Assembly later this month.
Rebecca Anna Stoil contributed to this report.