United we fall?
Liberman's Campaign: Divide Israel for 'Unity'

FM Avigdor Liberman's election campaign for Yisrael Beytenu urges giving Arab 'Triangle' area to create Palestinian state to 'unify' Jews.

Uzi Baruch and Tova Dvorin,

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman
Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman's party Yisrael Beytenu is veering sharply to the left, according to a document leaked to Yediot Aharonot Wednesday - a leak that comes amid high tensions over the possibility of early elections.

The document, entitled "Swim Against the Current - Yisrael Beytenu's vision" details a "regional peace plan" replete with land concessions - a decided shift to the left for the party, which had been allied with nationalist Likud during the last round of elections. 

Liberman's document includes a "solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict" which he is expected to present next week in Basel to European Union (EU) foreign ministers, at a meeting for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Liberman will also reportedly present the plan to the Saban Forum in Washington to senior US officials immediately thereafter.

In the document, the Foreign Minister argues that there is "no alternative" to dropping the idea of a unified Israel including the Biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria in favor of a compromise with the Arab world to supposedly end the conflict. 

"Having grown up on the concept of 'the two banks of the Jordan River,' I wonder what the head of Beitar, Ze'ev Jabotinsky, would have decided," Liberman wrote. "Without giving up the dream or the principle of a united Israel, I know that in the end there should be a [peace] deal made, a prudent compromise that would bring unity of the people, which is the most important thing."

Liberman argues that the issue is a matter of "national integrity" and that the lack of a two-state solution would be "a loss we could not overcome," claiming the unity of the people is more important than the unity of the land of Israel - despite the division such a concession would inevitably cause.

Peace with all Arabs?

He also maintains that, in light of the failures over the past 20 years in talks with the Palestinian Authority (PA), the agreement would have to be forged using an entirely different mode of thinking. 

"Accusations against ourselves which say that there is no peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians [because of Israel] are baseless," he stated, noting that those who tout such claims "lie to themselves and others."

"Contrary to other parties, Yisrael Beytenu understands that the conflict of the State of Israel is not only a territorial dispute with our Palestinian neighbors but a three-dimensional and integrated dispute between the Arab, Palestinian and Israeli Arab worlds," he continued. "Therefore, the arrangement with the Palestinians must be part of an overall agreement that would include peace agreements with the Arab countries and exchange of territories and populations of Israeli Arabs."

Negotiations, says Liberman, are made possible by the violent upheavals festering in the Arab world.

"Many [Arab countries] now understand [that] the Palestinian problem is not the main problem or the cause of unrest in the Middle East," he insisted. "Arab Spring events in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and other places prove this."

"Even moderate Arab states understand that the threat to them is not Israel and Zionism, but radical Islamic organizations like ISIS, the Al-Nusra Front, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah," he claimed. "So for the first time you can now reach a comprehensive agreement [with them] whose terms will be reasonable and acceptable for Israel."

Arab transfer - within Israel

Subsequently Liberman's plan specifies land swaps as part of a peace settlement.

"With regard to Israeli Arabs, the arrangement must include the exchange program between territories and populations," he writes. "Such an arrangement with the Palestinian state will allow Israeli Arabs who do not identify with Israel to become part of the Palestinian state."

"Such a move would solve first the problem of the Arabs in the Triangle and Wadi Ara, adjacent to the Palestinian Authority, who will be able to become citizens of the Palestinian state without having to leave their homes," he added. "It will enable Israeli Arabs from other places, such as Yaffo (Jaffa) and Akko (Acre), who feel that they are part of the Palestinian people, to solve the problem of duality and the 'split personality' from which they suffer. The State of Israel could also encourage them to do so, through a system of economic incentives."

Liberman has heavily promoted the idea of the "triangle swap" before, most recently earlier this year during the final stages of the last round of failed peace talks, in a plan that would extend the reach of a state of "Palestine" right into the center of coastal Israel.

The swap, which Israel reportedly offered the US in talks in December with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's support, refers to the area known as the Triangle in east-central Israel. The area includes the cities of Tayibe and Tira, in which about 300,000 Arab citizens live.

"Among us there are residents of Israel who are waving Palestinian flags in their communities, and Independence Day is not a holiday for them," he stated in April. "To me, the principle of exchanging territory and populations must be the basis for any agreement. We talked about it many times."

"I have never heard a rejection of this idea when I put it in front of world leaders," he added. "They only asked if it's practical."

He has also stated on multiple occasions that embracing the "moderate Arab world" is the plan for Israel's security in the Middle East.




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