Liberman Revisits Population Swap, Arab MK Swats Plan

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

With a new flexibility toward Mideast peacemaking at the White House, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman decided on Monday to revive his old proposal for swapping populations as well as land for peace.

“On the threshold of a new attempt to start up diplomatic negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, we must learn the lessons of the past, and the first lesson is: Every attempt to solve the Palestinian issue on a land-for-peace basis is destined to fail,” he said in an online posting.

Liberman said that “the only way to a sustainable agreement is through land and population swaps as part of a larger regional peace deal.”

He followed up the idea of population transfers, controversial in itself, with a swipe at certain Arabs who would, in his view, be prime candidates for swapping nationalities:

“It cannot be that a hegemonic Palestinian state will be established, without a single Jew — 100 percent Palestinian, and Israel will be a bi-national state with 22 percent Palestinians,” he stated.

“There is no reason that Sheikh Raed Salah, Ayman Odeh, Bassel Ghattas or Haneen Zoabi will continue to be citizens of Israel,” he said, naming some of the more incendiary personalities in the Arab Israeli sector.

Salah is the leader of the Islamic Movement’s Northern Branch, who has been jailed for incitement; the others are Joint List MK’s who have shown support for Israel’s enemies in various ways.

Joint List head Ayman Odeh cast Liberman’s comments in terms of domestic politics:

“The settler government knows that the Arab minority will be a crucial part in the battle to replace the government, and therefore, they are obsessively preoccupied with threatening to expel us from the citizenry,” Odeh charged.

“To the indignation of Liberman and the rest of the crazy right-wing, the Joint List will continue to grow and become stronger in the next elections until we have the critical weight to overthrow the current government,” he predicted.

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