Liberman unveils party slogan placing Israeli Arab city in Palestine
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Liberman unveils party slogan placing Israeli Arab city in Palestine

Yisrael Beytenu head says making some Israelis into Palestinians by remarcating the border is better than Jewish Home's proposed annexation which would leave Arabs disenfranchised

Yisrael Beytenu party leader Avigdor Liberman speaks at a press conference in Tel Aviv on January 15, 2014. (photo credit: Ben Kelmer/Flash90)
Yisrael Beytenu party leader Avigdor Liberman speaks at a press conference in Tel Aviv on January 15, 2014. (photo credit: Ben Kelmer/Flash90)

Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman on Thursday unveiled his party’s campaign slogan, which includes a declaration calling for the ceding of Israeli Arab areas to a future Palestinian state.

Speaking at a press conference in Tel Aviv, the foreign minister addressed the media at a podium bearing the words “Telling it like it is: Liberman.” The sub-slogan of the party, however, promotes the land and citizenship swap: “Ariel to Israel, Umm al-Fahm to Palestine,” referring to the West Bank settlement and the northern Israeli Arab city, respectively.

Liberman has long advocated a controversial land swap plan in which towns in “The Triangle” region southeast of Haifa — including heavily populated Arab cities — would become part of a Palestinian state in any peace agreement, and their residents would lose their Israeli citizenship and become citizens of Palestine, in exchange for the Jewish settlement blocs of the West Bank. The proposal could affect some 300,000 Israeli Arabs.

He added, “There’s no reason that inciters such as [MK Hanin] Zoabi, [MK Ahmad] Tibi and Raed Salah [leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel] should be Israeli citizens,” denouncing three Israeli Arab leaders known for their support of the Palestinian cause who hail from various parts of northern Israel — roughly but not quite the same area Liberman wants to cede to the Palestinians.

The Yisrael Beytenu slogan garnered immediate criticism from Umm al-Fahm’s leadership. Deputy Mayor Wissam Qahwash told the Walla news site shortly after the conference that Liberman’s slogan was “a disgrace to us, that a party eliminates citizens of the country in an abusive manner like this.”

“This slogan is appropriate for World War II,” he said.

Liberman struck a strident tone against Hamas and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, along with right-wing rival Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett and his proposal to annex the West Bank.

“We must eliminate Hamas and fire [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas,” he said. “To tell it how it is, without mumbling.”

“We’ve reached a crossroads, decisions are needed and we’re presenting a novel foreign policy stance in contrast to the anachronistic stance that the others present,” he said. “Bennett presents a classic two-nation state, extending sovereignty over [the West Bank] without giving [Arab residents] freedom to vote, which will lend evidence to our enemies for what they want.”

“We’re presenting a pragmatic approach of the national camp in Israel: Israel as a Jewish state with a faithful population,” he said.

While Liberman didn’t negate the possibility of joining a coalition with any of the parties in the running, left or right alike, he said he wouldn’t stand with those who seek to cancel the universal draft law which enlists ultra-Orthodox to the military.

“I heard that there are agreements between [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu, Bennett and the ultra-Orthodox parties to cancel the universal draft law and the conversion law,” he said. “We don’t go with this. We won’t be there. I sat in the opposition for many years — it’s not terrible.”

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