MK Tzipi Hotovely of the Likud party and MK Ahmed Tibi of the Arab-Israeli Ra’am Ta’al party faced off Tuesday over Arab MKs’ fierce objection to a plan that would see them become citizens of a Palestinian Authority-controlled Arab state, rather than of the state of Israel.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman has proposed that the Palestinian Authority, which has demanded the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Israeli Jews from Judea and Samaria, should be willing to accept roughly 300,000 Israeli Arabs living in the “triangle” region as citizens.
MK Tibi is among those who have expressed vigorous opposition to becoming a PA resident – despite the fact that he has sided with the PA regarding attacks on Israelis, and has attempted to travel abroad as a representative of the PA rather than of Israel.
Hotovely accused Tibi of hypocrisy. She noted that she, too, opposes the suggested exchange of land and population “because there should be only one state – the Jewish state – between the Jordan River and the sea.”
However, she said, “The Palestinians’ objection to a land swap reveals their true face, and their intention to benefit from both worlds. On the one hand, they want a Palestinian state, on the other hand, they want to be citizens of Israel and to enjoy the benefits offered here.”
“No Arab state gives its citizens rights like the state of Israel gives its citizens,” she added.
Tibi responded, “What benefits do Israeli Arabs get? The standard of living is higher in Dubai than in Israel.”
“I’m sick of hearing that Arabs want government money, or want to benefit from the Israeli economy. The Arab population’s standard of living was hurt when its lands were taken,” he accused.
“Liberman’s idea of a land exchange is not serious and cannot be implemented, and Liberman himself knows it,” he charged, adding, “In addition, it is unethical and causes anger among Israeli Arabs that a senior minister puts a plan like that in [United States Secretary of State] John Kerry’s hands. It’s outrageous that Arabs who were born here be treated as conditional citizens.”
Hotovely countered, “Why do you insist on holding an Israeli ID card, if it’s so bad for you here? John Kerry has opened a window of opportunity for you to get a Palestinian ID card, but you don’t want one.
“Israel is better because Israel is a democracy and Israeli Arabs have human rights and civil rights – something which is not true in other Arab countries,” she stated.
Regarding Tibi’s claims that Arabs’ lands were taken, Hotovely said, “Tibi’s arguments are part of an effort to falsely rewrite history, and to create a fake narrative. The Palestinians never had a state before the state of Israel was established. They were a collection of tribes with no sovereignty or citizenship of their own.”