The presence of Palestinians in Israel is a "mistake", said member of the Israeli Knesset Bezalel Smotrich. The 41-year-old leader of the religious Zionist Party and a MK made the remarks during a heated exchange in the Knesset yesterday where he said that Palestinians exist in Israel because its founder David Ben Gurion did not "finish the job" of clearing out the territory of its indigenous populations.
Calling Arab lawmakers "enemies" in an angry exchange during a debate, Smotrich said:
I'm not talking to you, anti-Zionists, terror supporters, enemies. You're here by accident because Ben Gurion didn't finish the job.
The remarks have triggered a discussion over what the Palestinians call the Nakba and the rise of fascism in Israel. The occupation state is often accused of being in denial over the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes prior to its founding. Some 750,000, more than half the indigenous, Muslim and Christian population, were expelled in what many historians have descried as deliberate ethnic cleansing, designed to artificially construct a Jewish majority in historic Palestine.
Though the six million Palestinian refugees scattered across the Middle East and the ongoing occupation of Gaza, and the West Bank is a constant reminder, the occupation state refuses to acknowledge its responsibility.
Many have pointed to Smotrich's remarks as an indication of Israel's schizophrenic attitude towards the expulsion of Palestinians.
"For 73 yrs, Israeli hasbarists have denied that the Nakba was a deliberate plan to expel Palestinian from their homes. Now an Israeli MK admits it," tweeted James Zogby, the founder and president of the Arab American Institute. "Btw, after looking at how many Palestinians had been expelled in 48, Ben Gurion called it a 'double miracle – more land, less Arabs,'" Zogby added, mentioning comments made by Israel's first Prime Minister following the expulsion of Palestinians.
For 73 yrs, Israeli hasbarists have denied that the Nakba was a deliberate plan to expel Palestinian from their homes. Now an Israeli MK admits it. Btw, after looking at how many Palestinians had been expelled in 48, Ben Gurion called it a "double miracle – more land, less Arabs" https://t.co/jNz7fzWsU1
— James J. Zogby (@jjz1600) October 13, 2021
Ben Gurion is seen as one of the architects of the ethnic cleansing which began months prior to the 1948 war with Arab states. Some 300,000 Palestinian had been expelled from towns and villages months before neighbouring Arab countries launched their military campaign in May that year.
Joint List member Aida Touma-Sliman warned of the rise of fascism in Israel in her reaction to Smotrich's comments. "We are putting up with this filthy fascism every day at the Knesset," said the representative from Hadash.
"But don't think about us, think about how every Arab citizen in Israel feels when such things are said offhandedly in parliament, how a young Arab feels when the right threatens to start a second Nakba," she added