Arab citizens of Israel are discriminated against in all areas of life, Arab Israeli MK Ahmad Tibi told journalist Stephen Sackur during an interview on BBC HARDtalk yesterday.
Tibi, who was in London to deliver a speech at a conference organised by MEMO, spoke of the fallout of US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
“I think the Trump administration promoted and are promoting anarchy in the region and anarchy in the world by supporting, enhancing, encouraging violations of international law,” he said. “He [Trump] totally adopted the Israeli narrative and the occupation narrative.”
When probed as to whether the US only recognised a fact that the Palestinians have been keen to deny, Tibi called into question whether the current reality should dictate what is acceptable.
If there is a thief in the area and he stole your house, it is the reality, but you are not supposed to accept reality as if it is legitimate fact
he said, as he pledged to keep protesting against the occupation.
Tibi was questioned as to how he could reconcile his status as an Arab Israeli citizen alongside his activism for the Palestinian cause, prompting him to detail the oppression he and other Arabs endure in Israel.
“Fifteen of us Stephen were shot by snipers and killed in 2000, citizens of the state of Israel, just because we demonstrated against Ariel Sharon getting into Al-Aqsa Mosque. From that point until today, 55 Arab citizens were killed by the Israeli security authorities without being prosecuted,” he stressed.
He pointed to polls in which Arab Israelis have confessed they feel like second or third class citizens compared to Jewish Israelis, and face discrimination in land allocation, budget, employment and agriculture.
“We are discriminated in all fields of life,” he concluded.
On the issue of the two-state solution, Tibi said that President Trump had put “a bullet in the head” in the proposal through his announcement on Jerusalem: “Instead of the two-state solution it became the two state illusion.”
Sackur questioned Tibi on the possibility of a unitary state for Israelis and Palestinians, to which he responded that this would be acceptable only if everyone in the new state would be treated equally.
“I will never accept to be unequal to any Israeli Jew, just because the state is defining itself as a Jewish state – because defining yourself as Jewish and democratic is an oxymoron,” he explained.
But Tibi said that Israel had proved unwilling to facilitate either the two-state solution or the one-state solution, instead opting to further entrench the occupation.
“When you have choice between two-state solution and one-state solution, they are choosing the third choice which is the status quo. The condition of the two-state solution is ending the occupation – Israel is rearranging the occupation.”