Israel’s firebrand minister for military affairs Avigdor Lieberman has said that all Palestinians should leave the entity and live in the territories administered by the Palestinian Authority.
Speaking to Israel’s Channel 2 on Saturday, Lieberman said the Palestinians living in Israeli cities and towns should be made to go and live in the occupied West Bank under the authority of President Mahmoud Abbas.
“With my blessing: You are Palestinians, you should go to Abu Mazen. You’ll be citizens of the Palestinian Authority. He’ll pay you unemployment benefits, health benefits, maternity benefits, hanging around benefits,” he said derogatorily, using a nickname for Abbas.
Back in 2014, Lieberman struck a similar tone by saying that Israel had to offer Palestinians “economic incentives” to enable such departures.
Israeli leaders, however, have not offered any guarantees that even if the Palestinians were to take the proposals, Tel Aviv would terminate its 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds.
Instead, they have frequently talked of Israeli plans to annex the West Bank. Earlier this month, Israeli education minister Naftali Bennett said the ongoing evacuation of the Amona settlement was a prelude to the annexation.
Israel has been dotting the territories with settlements, defying the international law amid the support of the United States, which has been using its veto power at the UN Security Council in favor of Tel Aviv.
On Thursday, a settler group said the number of Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank has risen by 3.9 percent since 2015, twice the growth rate of the Israeli population.
The Yesha Council said the number of Israeli settlers living in the territories surged beyond 421,000 in 2016. The figure does not include over 200,000 other Israeli settlers living in East Jerusalem al-Quds.
Lieberman said Tel Aviv had to consult Washington before choosing to assert “permanent control” over the West Bank. He urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to work for “an agreement” with US President Donald Trump on “the question of Israeli sovereignty” over the West Bank.
Observers say such an “agreement” would ensure Washington’s continued blocking of anti-Tel Aviv resolutions at the UN Security Council.
Both on his campaign trail and after inauguration in January, Trump has been indicating that his administration would be throwing much more weight than its predecessors behind the Israeli regime.
Netanyahu is to meet with Trump on Wednesday in Washington. The Israeli leader has already stated variously that he would be seeking to take advantage of Trump’s pro-Israeli leaning.
Lieberman said Iran should top the agenda of Netanyahu’s talks with Trump. “The greatest threat to Israel is Iran, Iran and Iran,” he said, reiterating Tel Aviv’s rhetoric against the Islamic Republic.
The Israeli premier himself has asserted that he would be lobbying Trump for measures to contain Iran.
The Israeli–Palestinian conflict is the ongoing struggle between Israelis and Palestinians that began in the mid-20th century. The conflict is wide-ranging, and the term is sometimes also used in reference to the earlier sectarian conflict in Mandatory Palestine, between the Jewish yishuv and the Arab population under British rule. It has been referred to as the world’s “most intractable conflict”, with the ongoing Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip reaching 50 years.
Despite a long-term peace process and the general reconciliation of Israel with Egypt and Jordan, Israelis and Palestinians have failed to reach a final peace agreement. The key issues are: mutual recognition, borders, security, water rights, control of Jerusalem, Israeli settlements, Palestinian freedom of movement, and Palestinian right of return. The violence of the conflict, in a region rich in sites of historic, cultural and religious interest worldwide, has been the object of numerous international conferences dealing with historic rights, security issues and human rights, and has been a factor hampering tourism in and general access to areas that are hotly contested.
Many attempts have been made to broker a two-state solution, involving the creation of an independent Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel (after Israel’s establishment in 1948). In 2007, the majority of both Israelis and Palestinians, according to a number of polls, preferred the two-state solution over any other solution as a means of resolving the conflict. Moreover, a majority of Jews see the Palestinians’ demand for an independent state as just, and thinks Israel can agree to the establishment of such a state. The majority of Palestinians and Israelis in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have expressed a preference for a two-state solution. Mutual distrust and significant disagreements are deep over basic issues, as is the reciprocal scepticism about the other side’s commitment to upholding obligations in an eventual agreement.
Within Israeli and Palestinian society, the conflict generates a wide variety of views and opinions. This highlights the deep divisions which exist not only between Israelis and Palestinians, but also within each society. A hallmark of the conflict has been the level of violence witnessed for virtually its entire duration. Fighting has been conducted by regular armies, paramilitary groups, terror cells, and individuals. Casualties have not been restricted to the military, with a large number of fatalities in civilian population on both sides. There are prominent international actors involved in the conflict.
The two parties engaged in direct negotiation are the Israeli government, currently led by Benjamin Netanyahu, and thePalestine Liberation Organization (PLO), currently headed by Mahmoud Abbas. The official negotiations are mediated by an international contingent known as the Quartet on the Middle East (the Quartet) represented by a special envoy, that consists of the United States, Russia, the European Union, and the United Nations. The Arab League is another important actor, which has proposed an alternative peace plan. Egypt, a founding member of the Arab League, has historically been a key participant.
Since 2006, the Palestinian side has been fractured by conflict between the two major factions: Fatah, the traditionally dominant party, and its later electoral challenger, Hamas. After Hamas’s electoral victory in 2006, the Quartet conditioned future foreign assistance to the Palestinian National Authority (PA) on the future government’s commitment to non-violence, recognition of the State of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements. Hamas rejected these demands, which resulted in the Quartet’s suspension of its foreign assistance program, and the imposition of economic sanctions by the Israelis. A year later, following Hamas’s seizure of power in the Gaza Strip in June 2007, the territory officially recognized as the PA was split between Fatah in the West Bank, and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The division of governance between the parties had effectively resulted in the collapse of bipartisan governance of the PA. However, in 2014, a Palestinian Unity Government, composed of both Fatah and Hamas, was formed. The latest round of peace negotiations began in July 2013 and was suspended in 2014.