Gone Off The Rails: Netanyahu tells Palestinians with Israeli citizenship to leave

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday publicly challenged Palestinians with Israeli citizenship protesting against a deadly police shooting to go and live under Palestinian rule in the West Bank and Gaza.

“To all those who are demonstrating and shouting their denunciation of Israel and support of a Palestinian state, I can say one simple thing: you are invited to move there – to the Palestinian Authority or to Gaza,” Netanyahu said.

“I can promise you the State of Israel will not put any obstacles in your way,” he told a meeting with Likud legislators.

Protests have erupted in northern Occupied Palestine since Israeli forces on Saturday shot dead a young Palestinian with Israeli citizenship during an attempted arrest.

Israeli police said Monday that 24 Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, including 10 minors, appeared in court on charges of rioting after getting arrested the day before.

They are suspected of “stone-throwing” and other “public order offenses” during demonstrations which have rocked the northern town of Kfar Kana, near Nazareth, since the fatal shooting of a 22-year-old resident early Saturday.

Kheir Hamdan was shot dead after Israeli police claimed he intervened in the arrest of one of his relatives and “threatened” Israeli officers with a knife.

Police say the officers fired warning shots before aiming directly at him when their lives were threatened. However, CCTV footage of the shooting show Hamdan was shot dead in cold blood.

His death set off two days of widespread rioting across Palestinian towns and villages in the Israeli-occupied northern territories, as locals in Hamdan’s village announced a general strike in protest.

Youths hurled stones at an Israeli car overnight near Taibe, police said. Taibe is part of a concentration of Palestinian towns and villages northeast of Tel Aviv, known as the Triangle, which lies close to the border with the occupied West Bank.

Palestinian citizens of Israel, who account for about 20 percent of the population in Occupied Palestine, are the descendents of Palestinian who remained on their land when the Zionist state was established in 1948. The majority of Palestinians were killed, expelled from their homes, or detained in work camps.

Palestinians with Israeli citizenship complain of routine discrimination, particularly in housing, land access and employment, and anger has risen in recent months over Israel’s assault on Gaza that left nearly 2,200 Palestinians, mostly civilians dead. More than 700 Palestinians in Israeli-occupied territories were arrested in protests across the country against the attack over summer.

Ahmad Tibi, a Palestinian member of the Israeli Knesset, said the comments showed the right-wing Likud party leader had “gone off the rails.”

Tibi accused Netanyahu, who has publicly pledged to explore the possibility of revoking the citizenship of those who “call for Israel’s destruction,” of pandering to far-right potential challengers in Likud.

The party is to hold a leadership vote in January amid mounting speculation of a national election, due only in 2017, within months.

“These kinds of things have never been said by any prime minister – not by (Menachem) Begin, nor by (Yitzhak) Shamir,” Tibi told Reuters, referring to the late Zionist leaders and pre-state underground chiefs.

The rioting in northern Occupied Palestine comes against a backdrop of soaring Israeli-Palestinian tensions in annexed East Jerusalem where there have been near-daily clashes over Israeli al-Aqsa violations as well as illegal settlement activities.

Israeli forces spokesman Micky Rosenfeld wrote on Twitter on Friday that 200 Palestinians have been arrested over the past two weeks in East Jerusalem.

Around 7,000 Palestinians, including hundreds without charge, are currently being held in Israeli prisons, more than 2,000 of whom were arrested by Israeli forces over this summer amid heavy tensions in the West Bank and Gaza.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the Zionist state – a move never recognized by the international community.

Source: Al-Akhbar English

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