Op-Ed: Can PA Arabs Be Loyal Citizens of Israel?
MK Hotovely’s citizenship plan for Judea and Samaria Arabs needs much more caution to protect Israel’s interests.
As reported on Arutz Sheva, Deputy Transportation Minister MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) is calling on the Israeli government to move towards the annexation of Judea and Samaria, even if it comes with the price of giving citizenship to Arabs residing in these areas. Estimates of the number of Arabs in the area have ranged from 1.5 to 2.4 million.
In the past 35 years, there have been many peace plans, the most recent of which have been based on the “land for peace” formula of Israel surrendering its heartland of Judea and Samaria, as well as eastern Jerusalem to the Palestinian Authority, mainly comprised of the Fatah and Hamas terrorist organizations. With the demonstrated failure of those plans, more and more suggestions are being heard calling for Israel to extend its sovereignty to these regions.
MK Hotovely proposal to annex all of Judea and Samaria to Israel differs from many pro-annexation proposals in that she calls for the granting of citizenship to the Arab residents. Such a suggestion is certain to bring criticism from both left and right in the political spectrum, with both complaining about the demographic and existential threat that would be caused by the addition of such a large amount of mostly hostile citizens to the Israeli population.
The concern is not misplaced. Even if the most optimistic demographers, such as Yoram Ettinger, who estimate that granting citizenship would bring the total Arab population from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River up to about 35%, are correct, we must understand that the political ramifications of a large Arab minority with increasing demands do not bode well for the State of Israel. On the other hand, declaring Israeli sovereignty without granting citizenship admittedly creates an apartheid-like situation that would greatly heighten the tensions between Israel and the ostensibly friendly nations of the world, including the United States.
Given all of these concerns, I have proposed my Peace For Peace plan, which includes the annexation of Judea and Samaria, as well as a path to loyal citizenship for all residents of the region. Such a path would include an extensive two-year course in Zionist, Jewish history and good citizenship, culminating in a required oath of loyalty to the Jewish State of Israel, and a 2-3 year commitment of national service to Israel, as performed by other citizens. Those residents who accept this offer would in effect be agreeing to become a loyal minority within Israel, much like the Druse community.
The residents of Judea and Samaria who refuse this path to loyal citizenship would be offered a stipend to be resettled in one of the neighboring countries. The option of subsidized transfer would be on the table for one year. After that point, only a small number of non-citizens would be allowed to remain, based solely on Israel’s needs.
With the offer on the table, all charges of apartheid would be easily refuted as disingenuous, since the rejection of such an offer would clearly demonstrate the hostility of those particular residents. No country can reasonably be expected to welcome as citizens those who seek its destruction.
This plan to extend Israeli sovereignty to all of Judea and Samaria and to absorb those with the potential to be loyal citizens is a clear, unambiguous plan that can bring historical justice to the region and to all of its inhabitants.