Arab-Israelis fume as Trump plan says their towns could become part of Palestine
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'We are citizens, not enemies'

Arab-Israelis fume as Trump plan says their towns could become part of Palestine

Mayors blast US peace deal which gives green-light to possible placing of several towns in so-called Triangle, southeast of Haifa, under control of future Palestinian state

Jacob Magid is the settlements correspondent for The Times of Israel.

Illustrative: An Arab Israeli woman casts her vote during elections for the Knesset on April 9, 2019, at a polling station in the northern town of Tayibe. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)
Illustrative: An Arab Israeli woman casts her vote during elections for the Knesset on April 9, 2019, at a polling station in the northern town of Tayibe. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

Leaders and residents of Arab-Israeli towns in the so-called Triangle fumed on Wednesday after US President Donald Trump’s peace plan proposed including their villages southeast of Haifa in a future Palestinian state.

“We are citizens of the state of Israel. Not enemies,” said Tayibe Mayor Sha’a Mansour Massarwa, who blasted the Trump’s “Deal of the Century” during an interview with the Ynet news site.

His town, along with the Triangle communities of Kafr Qara, Ar’ara, Baqa al-Gharbiya, Umm al Fahm, Qalansawe, Kafr Qasim, Tira, Kafr Bara 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 proposal has long been rejected by Arab-Israeli leaders.

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

“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 proposal claims.

An Arab Israeli man (L) registers before voting in elections for the Knesset on April 9, 2019, at a school turned polling station in the northern town of Tayibe. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman, who has long espoused a population transfer, 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.

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.

Arab Israelis wave Palestinian flags as take part in the annual ‘March of Return’ held on Israel’s independence day, near the northern city of Umm al-Fahm, on May 9, 2019. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

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

Miriam, a resident of Umm al-Fahm told the news site that she and her neighbors would not agree to be placed under the control of any other entity.

“We will remain here, even if it does not suit Netanyahu, Gantz or Trump. They are all racists who are campaigning for an election,” she said. “Let them know that we are willing to sacrifice our lives if someone tries to harm us.”

Sikkuy, a group that works to advance Jewish-Arab equality, issued a similar statement blasting the Trump proposal regarding the triangle.

“The idea of ​​stripping some 300,000 residents of their citizenship is another step in the process of delegitimizing the Arab citizens, which Netanyahu has repeatedly promoted for the sake of his political survival,” the NGO said.

Sikkuy said the proposal sends a message to residents of the triangle that “you are not just second class citizens, but you are tools for political spin.”

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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