Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s Monday interview with Al Quds revived Israeli Arab fears of his proposal, which he has been promoting for several years, that a future peace deal will see a swapping of Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria for Israeli Arab towns in the Arab triangle in central Israel.
On its face, the Liberman “Umm Al-Fahm proposal,” named after the thriving Israeli Arab city, is logical: why not swap a 100% Arab block of settlements in Israel for a 100% Jewish block of settlements in what has been designated the future Palestinian State? Let the Jews become part of the Jewish State and the Arabs be reunited with their brethren in the Arab State?
MK Ayman Odeh, Chairman of the Joint Arab List, told Israeli Radio Tuesday that Liberman’s suggestion is unacceptable, since the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria are illegal, and so they are not a viable bargaining chip in the negotiations. In other words, in order for a deal to be acceptable to Odeh, there must be a purely Arab state next door to a partially Arab state.
MK Odeh did not mention that, despite his gushing Palestinian patriotism (he refers to himself as an Israeli Palestinian), he and his voters have no intention of substituting life in a third world Palestinian State for their lives in democratic Israel.
Umm Al-Fahm’s deputy mayor Wisam Agbariya was irate back in 2014, when Liberman first proposed his swap, which would keep the city intact, only switch its political allegiance to the much heralded new Palestinian State. “I admit that I feel Palestinian, but I do not feel that the day of liberation has arrived. I don’t want to undergo another Nakba (the 1948 ‘catastrophe’)” he told Al Monitor. “For 65 years, part of the Palestinian nation has been formed here, let’s call it a population group under special conditions. Now you come to harm us again?”
How would becoming proud citizens of a Palestinian State harm this proud Palestinian? Apparently, he was insulted by being compared with the settlers and by being turned into “a bargaining chip.”
Naturally, he did not mention his understandable aversion to becoming part of a ruthless Arab tyranny that spends all its resources on maintaining the PLO in control and invests nothing in infrastructure and very little in healthcare and education.
Ahmed Machmid, a bookkeeper and nursing student, father of two daughters, told Al Monitor, “I am worried what will be if it does happen, what will be with us? How will we live? How will we become part of a state that has not been established yet? And if it [a Palestinian state]is established, that will be the beginning of our destruction. How does a country that calls itself democratic, dare to expel 300,000 people? Are we supposed to be the victims of this peace?”
Machmid then added, with rare candor, “It is annoying and depressing. There’s no doubt that the State of Israel is the strongest country in the Middle East and everyone wants to live here. I was born here and am connected to the country economically, socially and emotionally. Why am I responsible for the antics of [Arab] Knesset members [Azmi] Bishara or [Ahmad] Tibi? They don’t represent me, and I tell you that they also do not represent the majority. Go out to the street to talk to the people and ask who is willing to become part of the Palestinian Authority. No one.”
Why then would Israeli Arabs wish to see their brethren next door become the subjects of such an undesirable Palestinian State? Apparently, even honest Machmid did not have enough honesty on hand to answer that question.