Netanyahu says Arab rioters are welcome to go to PA or Gaza

Speaking at Likud faction meeting, PM promises new measures to deal with violent protests

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Arab youth seen waving the Palestinian flag and throwing rocks towards Border Police at the entrance to the Arab village Kafr Kanna, November 8, 2014. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Arab youth seen waving the Palestinian flag and throwing rocks towards Border Police at the entrance to the Arab village Kafr Kanna, November 8, 2014. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that Israeli demonstrators agitating for a Palestinian state were welcome to move there, lashing out at violent anti-Israel protesters who have clashed with police in a number of Arab towns since Saturday.

Netanyahu’s remarks came as unrest continued in Jerusalem and northern Israel for a third straight day, following the police’s shooting of a knife-wielding Kafr Kanna man caught on tape early 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.

“But whoever stays here must know — we will stand in the way of terrorists and attackers. 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 over the last three days, with some demonstrations turning violent.

Protests in northern Israel continued Monday morning, as 2,000 people, many waving Palestinian flags, gathered in the town of Sakhnin, just north of Kafr Kanna, the town where 22-year-old Kheir Hamdan was shot and killed by police Saturday, sparking demonstrations across the region.

In Nazareth, about 50 protesters gathered near Mary’s Well, waving Palestinian flags, Ynet reported.

Police said Monday morning that they were investigating an incident in which a suspect threw a pipe bomb at security forces operating near the town of Zichron Yaakov late Sunday night. No injuries were reported, and a bomb squad disposed of the homemade explosive device.

Haifa police were also investigating reports that a petrol bomb was lobbed over the fence of a religious school in the city.

There were soot marks at the site, according to Israeli news outlet Ynet, but no reports of injuries or damage.

Foreign Minister Avigdor 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.”

An official in the Sakhnin municipality warned that the situation would not improve unless Netanyahu adequately addressed the situation.

“For now, the events in the Arab population are under control, but it seems that if the prime minister does not take responsibility and talk to Arab residents as equal citizens, then the atmosphere will not calm down,” the unnamed official told Channel 2. “Anybody who wants to take advantage of this situation and others as a springboard for the upcoming elections — it will not come at the expense of the Arab sector.”

A video that emerged of Saturday’s shooting showed Hamdan, attacking a police cruiser with a knife, and then being shot as he appears to back off.

The officer who fired the fatal bullet — the only shot fired in the incident — told investigators that he believed his colleagues’ lives to be in danger, and that he shot to wound but not to kill, Channel 2 reported Sunday. He was the driver of the patrol car, and had gone to Kafr Kanna with three colleagues.

All four policemen are under investigation, but none has been suspended, and all will be reassigned Monday to what the TV report called “less fraught” areas of the country.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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