Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Will Israel Expel a Million Palestinians? | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The extremists in Israel are trying to build a case that aims to bring the peace process to a complete halt. [They are saying] if you want a Palestinian state, you must realize that we will expel a million and a quarter Palestinians who hold the Israeli nationality and live inside the Jewish state.

This proposal means that Israel is for Jews only. Is it reasonable for a state to be established for three million people, whilst at the same time this results in the displacement of another million?

This is a controversial and dangerous issue, and there are many important questions surrounding this. Is Israel capable of expelling a million, or even hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, in this day and age? Is this issue of acknowledging the “Jewish” state nothing more than a cultural one that reflects the conflict between the Israeli secularists and its religious extremists? Will the international community sit back and accept the Israeli decision that Israel is just for the Jews and its threat to expel its Palestinian community?

Little is known about the Arabs of Israel and they are not even known by a single name, they are known [in Arabic] as “Palestinian Israelis”, “the Arabs of 48”, or “the Arabs within.” Although the Arab Israelis have not played a major role with regards to the Palestinian cause over the past 40 years, we must not forget that they are the ones who clung to their land and refused to be displaced. They have been subject to harm by the state of Israel that seized much of their land under false pretext, and a number of the Palestinian Israelis lived as refugees in their own country. The restrictions against them were not lifted until after Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza in the 1967 war, in an attempt to completely swallow these newly occupied territories.

The Arab Israelis tried to fall in line with the Israeli regime, enduring all kinds of racist discrimination; they participated in local and parliamentary elections recognizing the importance of officially engaging in the political process, in fact Arab Israelis have stood for election and won seats in the Israeli Knesset since it was first established in 1949 until today. Israel banned the establishment of independent Palestinian movement’s like Fatah, but it did allow its Palestinian community freedom with regards to all other political affiliations, including Islamic movements that appeared in Israel following the Islamic revolution in Iran. The Israeli authorities allowed the establishment of Islamic extremist movements within Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip, in order to allow the Palestinians to target and harm one another, and with the exception of the Arab Israelis who were wise enough to avoid violence and refrain from giving the Israeli extremists a pretext to deport them from their own lands, this is indeed what happened.

Now, Israel, has invented a new idea in defining Israel as a [solely] “Jewish” state, for whilst it is true that Israel was since the beginning defined as a “Jewish and Democratic” state with the Star of David adorning its flag, it was also a secular state that did not interfere in the religion and privacy of its citizens. However today it wants its citizens of Palestinian origin to pledge their allegiance to Israel, the “Jewish state” and there is considerable division over this. The Arab Israelis will be forced to do so because they know that this is their land, and they have no choice but to do so.

Arab Israelis have made many important achievements in terms of coexistence, and confirming their presence and membership of this [Israeli] society. They have worked in all fields with the exception of the military; becoming senior judges and even ministers in Israeli governments.

Arab Israelis have even gone on to become Israeli ambassadors, with the first Arab Muslim Israeli diplomat [Ali Yahya] being appointed as Israeli ambassador to Finland [in 1995]. Arab Israelis have participated in practically all spheres of Israeli society, from the trade unions, to the Israeli media, to the arts. However Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to dismantle their presence in Israel and turn all of Israeli society against them; trading Israel’s Arab community in for the establishment of a Palestinian state.