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Israeli right-wing politician: 'Annex territories, grant Palestinians citizenship'

Israeli right-wing politician and former IDF general Efi Eitam has made remarks that few would have expected to hear from him.

Effi Eitam (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Effi Eitam (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Former IDF general and politician Efi Eitam is known for his extreme right-wing views and sharp tongue. From calling Arabs a “ticking bomb” to a “cancer,” Eitam has never shown much warmth for his neighbors.

Which is why it was surprising to read reports from the national religious website Srugim, quoting Eitam as saying the following remarks in a panel held last night to commemorate Berl Katznelson:

The State of Israel should annex Judea and Samaria and grant full citizenship to all Palestinians. Demography is not a numerical predestination, it is an expression of the joie de vivre of the nation. When a nation is happy, its number of children grows, that’s why I’m not scared of demography. Whoever can’t live with Arabs is not a partner of mine.

I trust the Arab public in Israel, it has proved itself. I have no fear of a bi-national state, the solution is not B-class citizens nor high fences. It is a simple and humane solution, Palestinians must be granted full rights and should vote for the Knesset. Whoever truly wants peace, should agree to accept more Arab citizens to his state, and whoever is part of the State of Israel whose borders need to be between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea for many reasons, needs to be a citizen with full rights and obligations.

Now, I’m not that naive to believe everything coming out of Eitam’s mouth. The bi-national state he talks about is probably not exactly what we think it is. But since there are more and more voices on the right talking about one state, it’s important to listen, find the nuances, and try to understand where these people really stand.

Is the right going through a major shift in ideology – or is this a different way of reaching the same target? My money’s on the latter, but… never say never?

What is the Israeli Right’s one-state vision?
Bennet’s response to Palestinian UN bid: Annexation
Palestinians repopulate Jordan Valley village, in protest of looming annexation

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    1. Khaled Khalid

      Why? Because the 1 million Palestinians living in Israel are treated so fairly?

      If the Israelis treat West bank and Gaza Palestinians so bad to begin with, why would Palestinians subject themselves to being 5th class “citizens” under Israeli law?

      Reply to Comment
      • Whiplash

        Arab Israeli Palestinian writer, Khaled Abu Toameh, said it best. He said he would rather be a second class citizen in Israel than a Arab citizen in any Arab state. Israeli Arabs are treated better and have more freedoms than Arabs living in Arab countries. They live longer, healthier and happier lives than their cousins in the West Bank, Gaza or other Arab countries.

        Israeli Arabs can practice their faith as Christians, Muslims or as atheists. They are free to choose their sexual preference. They can choose to live in Arab communities, in mixed communities or Maale Adumim if they like.

        Arab Israelis can enter any profession they like. If they choose, they can serve in the Israeli army. In Israel you will find Arab soldiers, Arab doctors, Arab judges at the highest levels of their professions. There are affirmative action programs for Arabs, including concerted efforts in the hi tech field. Arab women outnumber Arab men in Israeli universities. Even Arabs who hate Israel like Omar Barghouti choose to come to Israeli Universities.

        There are many Arab Israelis who are thankful for what they have. Even those who are not thankful, would not chose to live under Palestinian rule with a transfer of the Israeli territory of Arabs in the triangle to a Palestinian state.

        The Palestinian Arabs could have enjoyed the benefits which Arab Israelis have if they had asked for Israeli citizenship back in the 1970s and worked cooperatively with Israelis. The Palestinians not only wanted their own state they wanted to see Israelis’ state destroyed. In 1978 Palestinians had an offer of autonomy to rule themselves with the framework of an Israeli state which according to the Egyptians would have lead to statehood. They turned this down and bombarded Israeli communities in the North and sent terrorists into Israel.

        With the Oslo Accords, the Palestinians again had another chance at developing a state with the freedoms and quality of life in a free and democratic state. Again they turned to terrorism and corruption and missed their opportunity.

        The Palestinians at any time in the last 66 years could have chosen to build a state for their citizens with fundamental rights and freedoms as enjoyed by Israelis. They could have used the tens of billions of dollars wasted on the PLO, the PA and terrorist factions to build their state and create an economy and free and equal society for all their citizens.

        Cecil Hourani said back in the 1960s that the Palestinian Arabs are always trying to recover their position after their last poor choice. Palestinians should abandon their rejectionist policies and accept what the Israelis are offering. They will be better for it.

        Reply to Comment
        • Felix Reichert

          Whiplashian bullshit, as always. As everyone who has actually followed the events in the last years and decades knows, it is Israel and the Israeli government that has continuously sabotaged any attempt by the Palestinians to reach a fair compromise for a two state solution.

          Not only, but also by continuously sabotaging and infringing on the Oslo accords.

          Reply to Comment
        • Dr K

          What an extraordinary collection of myths! The facts are that Arab Christians are not free to worship in Israel. Just this past April the UN once again had to warn the Israeli government about the persecution of Christians. The political position of Palestinian Christians is set out in a document called, “Kairos Palestine” which has been signed by every Christian sect currently worshipping in Israel. The Presbyterian church recently divested itself of $21m of shares in companies that operate in the occupied Territorities. The Catholic and Orthodox archbishops also declared that Israeli-Christians need to resist the current pressure being placed upon them on the basis that the IDF is both criminal and sinful in its practices.

          Reply to Comment
        • OllieS

          You don’t see the basic reality of the situation – it is a gradual Israeli colonisation process which is about progressively destroying the Palestinians and erasing their identity, with its primary expression in the founding of the Israeli state by ethnically cleansing Palestinians en masse and making them stateless ‘Arab’ refugees. Calling them ‘Arabs’ is to erase their identity as Palestinians, to justify the ethnic cleansing which founded Israel, ‘ the Jewish state’. Why the hell would Palestinians want to live in a state that is based on 1) ethnically cleansing them from their land, and 2) defining one community’s own supremacism as the basis of that state or national community – the ‘Jewish state’.

          You pretend Palestinians can live happily in Israel, but you yourself reveal typical Zionist attitudes that are distinctly against Palestinians – acting as if Israel has been benevolent to them the whole time (instead of violently ethnic cleansing them, from 1948 to this day with West Bank settlements), and they’ve just been violent and irrational in response. It’s this kind of ridiculous – and European-colonial – characterisation of Israelis as morally superior to Palestinians which is precisely why they can’t live equally in Israel (‘the Jewish state’), and why they don’t want to.

          There are loads of other flaws in what you say. The money you think Israel has kindly given to Palestinian groups are to facilitate Israel’s use of the West Bank as a weak capitalist dependency, a colonial captive market for Israeli industrial goods and before the Russian immigrants, a source of cheap labour. I could go on all day correcting other things like this in your comment.

          Reply to Comment
    2. Kolumn8

      The Israeli religious right wants the land and the only way to annex it is to remove the objections held by the rest of the population. The biggest objection is demographic, hence the attempts to mollify that issue.

      The Israeli religious right does not fear demographics. First they are confident that Israeli Jews have a demographic advantage. Second they are confident that they would find a solution to the issue, either through agreement with the Arabs or without. Third they are confident that, if all else fails, they will have the raw power to ensure the survival of the Jews in Israel.

      I think they are overconfident in the way that religious people often are.

      Reply to Comment
      • Whiplash

        The religious right has no intention of including Gazans in the mix, only West Bankers, so that there will be a Jewish majority. The religious right thinks that Palestinian Arabs will accept Jewish majority rule because of the benefits of belonging to an Israeli state would bring. This is mistaken. The Arabs did not accept this argument in the 1920s, 1930s or 1940s but took the position that they would rather see Palestine barren then see a Jewish state succeed.

        An entire restructuring of the Israeli state and the consent of the Israeli and the Palestinian Arabs would have to be obtained to annex the whole West Bank. It is highly unlikely that either Israelis or Arabs would vote for such an annexation. Israelis want a Jewish state with an small Arab minority and Palestinians want an Arab state without Jews and certainly do not want to submit to the majority will of the Jewish State.

        If Israelis and Palestinian Arabs are unable to negotiate how to live in two separate states, how will they negotiate to live together in one state? Israelis are not going to invite terrorists to have free access to Israel and Palestinians are not going to accept Israeli control over all aspects of their daily lives.

        Reply to Comment
        • Kolumn8

          Yeah. I agree with you. I don’t think this would work. There is no common anything between the Arabs and Jews in this area which would allow the building of a single state. Economics is incapable of overcoming such wide difference in national narratives. This was true in the 1930s/1940s when the Palestine Communist Party and Magnes/Yaari thought they could do it and it is wrong today. In my view any attempt to try to create a binational state out of Israel would make Israeli politics completely unworkable and in the end it would break down into a civil war as it did under the British Mandate. Relations within Israeli politics between Jews and Arabs is all that one really needs to know about in order to understand that it is completely unworkable.

          The point is that the religious right is perfectly fine with the idea of a civil war because it believes it can win (with god’s help or whatever, hence the accusation of messianism) and force the Arabs either into submission or into flight.

          Reply to Comment