Israeli FM proposes bribes for 1948 Palestinians to leave Occupied Palestine

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman proposed on Friday that Palestinians with Israeli citizenship be offered financial incentives to leave Occupied Palestine and relocate to a future Palestinian state.

As one of the most strident voices in favor of the separation of Israelis and Palestinians, Lieberman added that Palestinians living in Jaffa and Acre, two mixed cities on the Mediterranean coast far from the West Bank, should be encouraged to move if they want.

“Those (1948 Palestinians) who decide that their identity is Palestinian will be able to forfeit their Israeli citizenship and move and become citizens of the future Palestinian state,” he wrote in the manifesto, entitled Swimming Against the Stream, published on his Facebook page and his party’s website.

“Israel should even encourage them to do so with a system of economic incentives,” he said.

Palestinian citizens of Israel, who account for about 20 percent of the population in Occupied Palestine, are the descendents of Palestinians 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.

Lieberman’s proposal echoes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s challenge earlier this month for 1948 Palestinians to go and live under Palestinian rule in the West Bank and Gaza, after many protested against the deadly police shooting of a young Palestinian with Israeli citizenship during an attempted arrest.

“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.

The demonstrations in northern Occupied Palestine came against a backdrop of soaring Israeli-Palestinian tensions in annexed East Jerusalem, where there have been near-daily clashes over Israeli violations at the al-Aqsa mosque compound as well as illegal settlement activities.

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 the Gaza Strip.

Lieberman, whose ultra-nationalist party is a core part of Netanyahu’s coalition, has previously spoken about redrawing borders but not about using incentives to encourage Palestinians to uproot to a Palestinian state.

A poll carried out in 2010, after Lieberman addressed the United Nations and set out plans for the borders of a future Palestinian state to be redrawn to include Palestinian-majority towns in Occupied Palestine, showed that 58 percent of 1948 Palestinians opposed the idea.

Moreover, Lieberman had called on Palestinians in the past to take a loyalty oath if they want to remain in Occupied Palestine, a measure that Netanyahu denounced at the time.

But Netanyahu is now backing a contentious bill that would define Israel as the Jewish state and enshrine certain rights for Jews.

Earlier this week, the Israeli cabinet voted in favor of the proposal to anchor in law Israel’s status as the national homeland of the Jewish people.

Israel would no longer be defined in its Basic Laws as “Jewish and democratic,” but instead as “the national homeland of the Jewish people.”

Critics, including the government’s top legal adviser, said the proposed change to the laws that act as Israel’s effective constitution could institutionalize discrimination against its 1.7 million Palestinian citizens.

The Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) said that the state’s Jewish identity is already contained in its 1948 declaration of statehood.

“However, that declaration also emphasizes the Jewish state’s absolute commitment to the equality of all of its citizens – an essential component missing from the proposals being presented to the government today,” IDI president Yohanan Plesner said in a statement.

The version of the “Jewish state” bill approved by ministers on Sunday represents a nod from Netanyahu to the most hardline elements of his party and ruling coalition as talk grows of an early election.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has repeatedly expressed his refusal to compromise the longstanding Palestinian stance against recognizing Israel as a Jewish state.

Palestinians fear that identifying Israel as such will cancel the right of return of Palestinian refugees or the right to reparations for those affected by the creation of Israel in 1948.

Palestinian leaders continue to demand the establishment of an independent state in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, with East Jerusalem – currently occupied by Israel – as its capital.

In November 1988, Palestinian leaders led by Yasser Arafat declared the existence of a state of Palestine inside the 1967 borders and the state’s belief “in the settlement of international and regional disputes by peaceful means in accordance with the charter and resolutions of the United Nations.”

Heralded as a “historic compromise,” the move implied that Palestinians would agree to accept only 22 percent of historic Palestine, in exchange for peace with Israel. It is now believed that only 17 percent of historic Palestine is under Palestinian control following the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) this year set November 2016 as the deadline for ending the Israeli withdrawal from the territories occupied by Israel during the Six-Day War in 1967 and establishing a two-state solution.

According to PA estimations, 134 countries have so far recognized the State of Palestine, although the number is disputed and several recognitions by what are now European Union member states date back to the Soviet era.

It is worth noting that numerous pro-Palestine activists support a one-state solution, arguing that the creation of a Palestinian state beside Israel would not be sustainable. They also believe that the two-state solution, which is the only option considered by international actors, won’t solve existing discrimination, nor erase economic and military tensions.

Source: Al-Akhbar English

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