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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 2/7/20

Israel's Palestinian Minority has Good Reason to Fear Trump's Plan

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The Trump administration's decision to green-light Israel's annexation of illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank grabbed headlines last week. But US support for a related proposal one equally cherished by Israel's extreme right was far less noticed.

Under the terms of the "Peace to Prosperity" document, the US could allow Israel to strip potentially hundreds of thousands of its own inhabitants of their citizenship in a so-called "populated land swap" with the settlements.

Those in danger of having their citizenship revoked are drawn from Israel's large Palestinian minority one in five of the country's population.

These Palestinians are descendants from families that managed to avoid the large-scale expulsions by the Israeli army in 1948 that led to the creation of a Jewish state on the ruins of the Palestinians' homeland.

The plan would require minor modifications to borders recognised since Israel agreed to a ceasefire with its Arab neighbours in 1949.

The result would be to transfer a long, thin strip of land in Israel known as the "Triangle" into the West Bank along with a dozen towns and villages densely populated with Israel's Palestinian citizens.

Unwelcome guests

Samer Atamni, director of the Jewish-Arab centre for peace at Givat Haviva, an institute promoting greater social integration in Israel, lives in Kafr Karia, one the towns likely to be moved under the plan.

"There's been talk about this idea for a while but mostly from the extreme right. Now Trump has brought it out of the margins and into the mainstream," he told Middle East Eye.

"The worry is that it will become the basis of any future political solution. It has been normalised."

Yousef Jabareen, a member of the Israeli parliament from Umm al-Fahm, home to 50,000 Palestinians and the largest community targeted by the "land swap", said the proposal was a dramatic step-up in a growing campaign to delegitimise the Palestinian minority.

"Even if the plan cannot be implemented yet, it presents us the native people of the land as unwelcome guests, as a fifth column, as the enemy," he told MEE.

"And it will inflame the right-wing's incitement, including from [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu, that Palestinian members of the parliament are representatives for a terrorist population."

'Pieces on a chessboard'

Defenders of the plan have argued that it does not violate the rights of those affected because they would not be physically forced from their homes. Instead, their communities would be reassigned to a Palestinian state.

But forcible transfer of the kind suggested in the Trump plan sometimes referred to as "static transfer" is likely to constitute a war crime under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Atamni noted that families would be torn apart. Those inside the Triangle would be separated behind checkpoints and walls from family members living elsewhere in Israel. It would also cut many off from their places of work, schools and colleges, as well as their historic lands.

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Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. He is the 2011 winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are "Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East" (Pluto Press) and "Disappearing Palestine: (more...)
 

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