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Changing the Flag

By       Message Uri Avnery     Permalink
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opednews.com Headlined to H4 3/30/14

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No population would be removed. No property expropriated. The Palestinians living there would be able to retain their Israeli citizenship, if they desire it, as well as their Israeli social security rights. They would just cease being inhabitants of the State of Israel and become inhabitants of the State of Palestine.

A fair, even benevolent solution. Except for one little point: the Palestinian inhabitants would not be asked.

After a thorough study of precedents, the legal advisor concluded that international law does not demand a plebiscite. And indeed, Lieberman strongly objects to any such consultation.

Why? Because the people concerned have already made it absolutely clear that they would refuse such a transfer.

That is a great compliment for Israel. In spite of all the discrimination, in spite of all the justified complaints, the Arab citizens of Israel wish to remain a part of the state, rather than become a part of the future Palestinian state.

Their second-class status is obvious. The news reminds us of it almost daily. What is less obvious, but not less real, is that the Arab population is deeply rooted in Israeli reality, economic and political.

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The other side of the coin is that Israel derives large benefits from this population. They work in the Israeli economy. They pay taxes. The argument that they do not pay their share is a myth -- one cannot live in Israel without paying taxes, both direct and indirect (unless one is very rich).

MANY COUNTRIES in history have learned that expelling a population is often extremely harmful for the economy. When France expelled the protestant Huguenots, it became a poorer country. Prussia, which invited them in, became rich and powerful. This is even more true for the expulsion of the Jews and Muslims from Spain and Portugal. Both countries deteriorated, while the Ottoman Empire, which embraced the Jews, profited.

The Arab citizens of Israel are a great asset for the state. Far from getting rid of them, we should do everything possible to make them feel at home.

Changing the flag would be a symbolic part of that effort.

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