BEIRUT

Middle East

Lieberman slams Arab Israelis over Nakba protest

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman gestures as he listens to his Austrian counterpart Sebastian Kurz during a joint press conference on April 22, 2014 at the foreign ministry in Jerusalem. AFP PHOTO/GALI TIBBON

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Wednesday denounced as a "fifth column" thousands of Arab Israelis who joined a demonstration calling for the right of return for Palestinian refugees.

Around 10,000 protesters, many waving Palestinian flags, joined a rally in northern Israel on Tuesday to remember 530 villages from which some 760,000 people fled or were expelled following the creation of the Jewish state in 1948.

The rally took place as Israel marked its 66th Independence Day, with Lieberman accusing the demonstrators of being traitors.

"Those who marched with flags of the Palestinian Authority demanding that it not give up on the right of return, are a fifth column whose aim is the destruction of Israel," he told army radio.

He also addressed the demonstration on his Facebook page on Tuesday.

"To those Arabs that took part today in the 'Nakba Day' procession and waved Palestinian flags, I suggest that next time they march directly to Ramallah and they stay there," he wrote.

But he acknowledged that those who joined the Nakba demonstration were only "a minority" among Israel's Arab minority, who make up just over a fifth of the overall population of 8.2 million.

At the rally, which took place in a small village in northern Israel, the protester marched under the slogan: "Your 'independence' day is our Nakba" - the Arabic for catastrophe.

More than 760,000 Palestinians fled or were driven out of their homes when Israel came into being in May 1948. Today, with their descendants, they number an estimated 4.8 million.

Around 160,000 Palestinians stayed behind and took citizenship in the newly-established state, becoming known as Arab Israelis. Official figures published last week show they now number 1,694,000 people, or 20.7 percent of the population.

Lieberman, a hardliner within the ruling rightwing coalition, is an open proponent of the controversial concept of "transfer" -- transferring densely-populated Arab Israeli areas to the control of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority in any future peace deal.

 

Recommended

Advertisement

Comments

Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

comments powered by Disqus
Summary

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Wednesday denounced as a "fifth column" thousands of Arab Israelis who joined a demonstration calling for the right of return for Palestinian refugees.

Around 10,000 protesters, many waving Palestinian flags, joined a rally in northern Israel on Tuesday to remember 530 villages from which some 760,000 people fled or were expelled following the creation of the Jewish state in 1948 .

"To those Arabs that took part today in the 'Nakba Day' procession and waved Palestinian flags, I suggest that next time they march directly to Ramallah and they stay there," he wrote.

But he acknowledged that those who joined the Nakba demonstration were only "a minority" among Israel's Arab minority, who make up just over a fifth of the overall population of 8.2 million.


Advertisement

FOLLOW THIS ARTICLE

Interested in knowing more about this story?

Click here