The Israeli Minister for Foreign Affairs, Avigdor Lieberman, does not miss a single opportunity that allows him to demonstrate his fascist way of thinking and racist tendencies. Earlier this week, he once again returned to ideas that he advocated for more than four years ago, pointing out that he believed that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict can be solved through land swaps between Israelis and the state of Palestine.
Most recently, Lieberman clearly defined what he meant by his racist ideas by stating that the solution to the conflict did not depend as much on land swaps as it did on transferring Arab populations living inside Israel to areas that are currently inhabited by Jewish settlers in the West Bank.
Lieberman’s proposal does not necessarily include Jerusalem but focuses primarily on the Triangle area and Wadi Ara, which are home to more than 300,000 Palestinian citizens. Lieberman claims that his proposal is an attempt to facilitate US Secretary of State John Kerry’s latest efforts to find a solution to the conflict and therefore end the negotiations.
Lieberman has resorted to commissioning a committee within the Israeli Ministry of Foreign affairs in order to find legal justifications and international historical precedents demonstrating that this type of suggestion should come as no surprise to anyone.
The ministerial committee, which has set aside its other responsibilities to pursue this matter further, claimed that Lieberman’s suggestion is not unprecedented. In fact, they claim that it has happened before when the Israeli government and Egypt swapped land in 1950, specifically land on the armistice line in Gaza in an area known as Abasan.
The committee also believes that there was another similar agreement that took place after World War II when populations and land were swapped between Greece and Bulgaria.
Yet, Lieberman’s committee blatantly ignored one simple fact in that this proposal seeks to conduct a swap between two Palestinian territories, the first of which was stolen in 1948 and the second was occupied in 1967.
Lieberman’s committee also ignored many formal agreements that were conducted between the two states, although Palestine is still considered a non-member state in the United Nations. It also ignores UN resolution 181 also known as the partition plan of Palestine, written in 1947. In an attempt to protect the Israeli identity of settlers, Lieberman’s proposal intends to lure Palestinian citizens of Israel into accepting this offer by granting them a dual Palestinian-Israeli identity card that would allow them to move freely between territories.
The dangers of this proposal stem from Israel’s greater ambitions, which were clearly defined in a preliminary agreement that was achieved during the negotiations with Olmert’s government. In these agreements, Israel proposed equal land swaps of territories ranging from two to four per cent.
Now, Israel has gone from discussing limited amounts of land swaps under the pretext of Israeli security to suggesting territories and populations must be swapped as well. In any case, this is not the first time that Israel has believed that such an exchange is achievable and can become reality. After the signing of the Oslo Accords, Israel said that the agreement would bring an end to the Palestinian refugee issue now that the Palestinians have an “Authority” to answer to. Israel and the United States also expressed their beliefs that there was no longer a need for UNRWA and the Palestinian Authority, which was formed as a result of the Oslo Accords, embodied the homeland for Palestinian refugees.
However, many parties, specifically members of the Likud Party who are against the very principle of negotiation, have rejected Lieberman’s proposal and they are also against keeping Israeli settlements under Palestinian sovereignty in any forthcoming resolution. Many Likud members view Israeli settlements as an extension of Israel and as something that should not be negotiated on in any way.
Moreover, many of the ministers in Netanyahu’s government reject Lieberman’s proposal on the sole basis that it reveals to the world the true extent of Israel’s racism and fascist tendencies. By attempting to transfer or deport Palestinian populations, Israel is demonstrating that they seek to establish a “purely Jewish State”, one that does not tolerate any other identities, ethnicities or religions.
Israel’s ethnic cleansing policies did not begin with this proposal nor will they end with it. In fact, ethnic cleansing is a daily practice that Israel uses against Palestinian citizens of Israel, especially those living in Jerusalem who are being subjected to Judaisation and other policies that complicate their lives and endorse forced deportation and immigration.
Yet, this proposal is a blatant showcase of Israel’s ethnic cleansing project because it was publicly declared. The Israeli government’s broad rejection of this proposal will make it impossible for Lieberman to pass it, especially in light of the Arab community’s categorical rejection of this plan.
Translated form Al-Ayyam newspaper, 26 March, 2014
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.