Arab Israelis protest against US proposal to include their towns in Palestine

Dozens demonstrate in northern city of Umm al Fahm, other communities in so-called northern Triangle, which Trump outline suggests could become part of future Palestinian state

Arab Israelis protest against US Presidnet Donald Trump's peace plan in the northern city of Umm al-Fahm on January 31, 2019. (Screen capture: Twitter)
Arab Israelis protest against US Presidnet Donald Trump's peace plan in the northern city of Umm al-Fahm on January 31, 2019. (Screen capture: Twitter)

Dozens of Arab Israelis protested Friday in northern Israel against US President Donald Trump’s peace plan, which proposed including their villages in the so-called northern Triangle in a future Palestinian state.

Demonstrators in Umm al-Fahm, one of the Triangle communities southeast of Haifa which is mentioned in the plan, chanted against Trump’s “deal of the century” and waved Palestinian flags.

Joint List MK Youssef Jabareen, a resident of Umm al-Fahm, said an umbrella body of Arab Israeli organizations would convene Saturday to express its opposition to the plan.

“Tomorrow the Arab Higher Monitoring Committee will hold a national rally in Baqa al-Gharbiya to speak out against the conspiracy of [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu and Trump,” Jabareen said at the protest.

Jabareen said Trump’s proposal “perpetuates the occupation and the conflict, and will also perpetuate the cycle of violence.”

A small demonstration was also held in Kafr Yasif and near Deir al-Asad, where protesters blocked a highway, according to to Channel 13 news.

A protest is also scheduled for Saturday in Tel Aviv, Jabareen said.

MK Yousef Jabareen attends a committee meeting in the Knesset, December 13, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Besides Umm al-Fahm, the Triangle communities of Kafr Qara, Ar’ara, Baqa al-Gharbiya, Umm al Fahm, Qalansawe, Kafr Qasim, Tira, Kafr Bara, Tayibe and Jaljulia were all referenced in the US peace plan, which “contemplates the possibility, subject to agreement of the parties that the borders of Israel will be redrawn such that the Triangle Communities become part of the State of Palestine.”

The idea has long been rejected by Arab-Israeli leaders.

“These communities, which largely self-identify as Palestinian, were originally designated to fall under Jordanian control during the negotiations of the Armistice Line of 1949, but ultimately were retained by Israel for military reasons that have since been mitigated,” the US proposal says.

Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman, who has long espoused a population exchange, issued a Tuesday statement “welcoming President Trump [for] adopting my 2004 plan.”

But Qalansawe mayor Abdulbast Salameh called the plan “political propaganda at the expense of Israel’s Arab citizens.”

“We are here on our land and no one will decide how we will live. Trump is out of control. We are for peace. But a just peace. We will continue to strive for peace,” he said in a statement.

View of Umm al-Fahm, June 22, 2017. (Amanda Borschel-Dan/Times of Israel)

Umm al-Fahm Mayor Samir Mahamid slammed the Trump administration’s efforts, saying the White House was seeking to make decisions without consulting residents of the Triangle or the Palestinian Authority. The latter has largely boycotted Washington since it recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017.

“I am here and am demanding my rights as a citizen,” Mahamid asserted in a Ynet interview on Wednesday. “This plan equates me to a settler who came to land that does not belong to me.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was asked about the clause of the peace plan by a Channel 12 interviewer on Wednesday who speculated that the Palestinians would never agree to such a proposal.

“Never say never,” Pompeo responded.

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