Often overlooked is what would happen to Palestinian citizens of Israel in the event of a two-state solution. Who needs Sharon and Feiglin if Livni’s going to start playing the transfer game too?
In remarks to school children broadcast on Israeli radio, Ms Livni’s said her solution for maintaining a Jewish and democratic state of Israel was “to have two distinct national entities”.
“Among other things I will also be able to approach the Palestinian residents of Israel… and tell them: ‘Your national aspirations lie elsewhere.'”
Since I first read this article, it has been updated with clarifications from Livni, who now says:
“There is no question of carrying out a transfer or forcing them [Israeli Arabs] to leave,” she told public radio.
“I am willing to give up a part of the country over which I believe we have rights so that Israel will remain a Jewish and democratic state in which citizens have equal rights, whatever their religion,” she added.
These comments, however, don’t really get to the crux of the issue. Even if they are not forcibly and physically transferred, we’re left to guess what their status will be.
This is something that a lot of people outside the Middle East don’t understand. When many Israelis, even leftist “pro-peace” Isrealis, talk about a two-state solution, they look at the idea as an opportunity to get rid of Israel’s Palestinian citizens. The means vary from person to person, but usually it involves trading Israeli territory with Palestinians on it, transfering Palestinians or forcing Palestinians to either swear an oath to the Jewish state of Israel or lose their civil and political rights.
I think many sober Israelis understand that barring a dramatic change in Jewish birth rates or a massive influx of American, French or Argentinian Jews, even if they get rid of the West Bank and Gaza, they’re still facing a demographic “threat.” This is something that no one ever talks about in the framework of a two-state solution, but many Israelis I’ve spoken to have absolutely no problem with stripping Palestinian citizens of Israel of their citizenship in a two-state deal.
Otherwise, I saw Jimmy Carter last night, who spoke to a packed out crowd at the Issam Fares Institute at the American University of Beirut. With the exception of the news that the Carter Center will probably monitor next year’s elections here in Lebanon, there was nothing really groundbreaking to be heard if you’ve followed Carter’s ideas on the region, but it was good to see him in person.