This Land is Ours Say Israeli-Arabs

By Saleh Al-Naemi – Occupied Jerusalem

Israeli-Arabs are reacting with outrage with Foreign Minister and frontrunner for premiership Tzipi Livni’s call for Arab citizens to leave Israel and move into the new Palestinian state.

"Israeli-Arabs will not leave their land," Arab member of Knesset Abbas Zakour told on Friday, December 12.

"We are the owners of this land. We have been born here and will be buried in this land."

Livni, the leader of the centrist Kadima party who hopes to become prime minister after the February 10 polls, said Thursday that Israeli-Arabs should move to the new Palestinian state when it is created.

"My solution for maintaining a Jewish and democratic state of Israel is to have two distinct national entities," she told a group of secondary school students in Tel Aviv.

"And among other things I will also be able to approach the Palestinian residents of Israel, those whom we call Arab Israelis, and tell them: ‘your national aspirations lie elsewhere.’"

Livni on Friday ruled out the expulsion of Israeli-Arabs after the Palestinian state is established.

"The national aspirations (of the Arabs) should be realized elsewhere, but there is no question of carrying out a transfer or forcing them to leave."

Arabs in Israel are estimated at 1,413,500 or 19.8% of the Israeli 6.5 million populace, according to statistics released by the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics in 2006.

‘Pure’ Israel

Zakour, of the United Arab List, said Livni’s statements reflect the anti-Arab racism in Israel.

"Livni’s remarks show that there is a Zionist consensus among the right-wing and leftist parties that the Jewish state should be "pure" of Arabs," he said.

"Pitifully, some Arab and Palestinian parties as well as the Americans and Europeans show understanding to the idea of establishing a ‘pure’ Jewish state.

"We have to get ready before it is too late," stressed Zakour.

MK Ahmed Tibi agrees.

"These (things) have been said before, but this time it is more severe because they are said by a candidate for the premiership," he said.

Tibi said that the Kadima leader is copying right-wing Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu.

"[Livni] must be straightforward and open [as is appropriate] for someone running for prime minister.

"She must decide whether she means to leave a million Arabs without political rights or a national identity, or what she really intends, is to transfer a million Arab citizens to the Palestinian state that will be established, [and in this case] she must honestly say so. [Likud candidate Moshe] Feiglin, says this harshly, but at least honestly."

Livni’s anti-Arabs statement also drew flak from the Palestinian Authority.

"[The remarks] put obstacles on the way of the peace process and will not lead to a peace agreement and a just and comprehensive solution," spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeinha told Agence France-Presse (AFP).

"These statements don’t serve the cause of peace or efforts being made to reach a comprehensive peace in the region. They show that Israel is not serious about a solution or the negotiations with the Palestinians.

"The way to peace is by respecting international legislation. The Israeli election campaign should not be exploited to create tensions."

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