Arab-Israeli MK Mohammad Barakeh said on Tuesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has no authority over the citizenship of Israel’s Arab population because Netanyahu lives in Palestine, not Israel.
Barakeh, head of the Arab Hadash party, was responding to Netanyahu’s statement Monday that Israeli demonstrators agitating for a Palestinian state were welcome to move there.
“You can’t cancel our citizenship because we are in our land, Palestine; Netanyahu is living with us,” Barakeh said during a speech he delivered in Ramallah, Channel 10 reported. “Our homeland is not a Zionist gift.”
Barakeh appeared to be conflating Netanyahu’s remarks with those made Monday by Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, who reiterated his call for a large portion of Israel’s Arab population to be included in a future Palestinian state. Netanyahu gave no indication that those who moved would be stripped of their citizenship.
The prime minister on Monday lashed out at violent anti-Israel protesters who repeatedly clashed with police in a number of Arab towns since Saturday.
“To all those who are shouting against Israel and demonstrating against it — you are welcome to move to the Palestinian Authority or to Gaza, Israel won’t stand in the way,” Netanyahu said at the beginning of the weekly Likud faction meeting.
The prime minister’s remarks came amid three days of unrest in Jerusalem and northern Israel after a police officer shot and killed a knife-wielding Kafr Kanna man early Saturday.
“But whoever stays here must know — we will stand in the way of terrorists and attackers,” Netanyahu said. “I have given instructions to use all of the means at our disposal, including passing new laws, including destroying terrorists’ homes, and other measures.”
Protesters have waved Palestinian flags and called for Israel’s destruction in a number of Arab Israeli towns since the shooting, with some demonstrations turning violent.
Liberman said Monday that Arab residents of northern Israel should not remain citizens of Israel if an agreement is reached on a Palestinian state.
“The people in the Triangle must understand that if there is an agreement, they will not be citizens of the State of Israel,” he said, referring to the cluster of Arab towns in northern Israel abutting the Green Line. “You can’t benefit from the National Insurance Institute, convalescence and unemployment pay while raving and inciting against the state. I think that today this is clear — they must be on the other side of the border.”
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.