Arab Knesset members reacted angrily on Wednesday to a report in the Maariv daily newspaper, which stated that Israel has suggested to the United States a plan to transfer to the Palestinian Authority (PA) areas with a dense Arab population currently inside Israel.
The report specifically referred to an area known as the Triangle, located in east-central Israel, including the cities of Tayibe and Tira, in which about 300,000 Arabs live.
Two Israeli sources confirmed that such an offer had been made and said that in return for the area ceded, Israel will get to keep settlement blocs in Judea and Samaria.
MK Ahmed Tibi (Ra’am-Ta’al), who used to be an adviser to former PA Chairman Yasser Arafat and a resident of Tayibeh, told Maariv in response to the report, "This is a bizarre offer which treats Arab citizens as a chess piece that one can move around and change.”
He added, “No offer that involves an exchange of population will be accepted, neither by the Arab Israeli community nor by the Palestinian Authority. Once they feared our nationhood, now they fear our citizenship.”
MK Masud Ganaim (Ra’am-Ta’al) also attacked the proposal, telling Maariv, "This is a delusional proposal. This is the country and legitimate national home of Arabs and you cannot compare them to the settlers who are occupying the West Bank without legal or legitimate justification.”
MK Afou Agbaria of the Communist Hadash party slammed the idea as well, saying, “Citizens in a democracy are not pawns or hostages in the hands of the government. If Israel wants to redraw the map of the boundaries, we favor a return to the 1947 partition lines.”
Israeli Arabs have the right to vote, serve in the Knesset, study in Israeli universities, share the same hospitals and public facilities and work alongside Israeli Jews. Nevertheless, Arab MKs have claimed that they are not treated as equal citizens, with one even claiming that Israel practices a policy of “apartheid” towards Arabs.
The PA, on the other hand, has openly declared that a future Palestinian state will not include any Israeli presence.