Avigdor Liberman’s Jingoism

One of the sad results of the atmosphere created by the war, is that right wing Member of Knesset, Avigdor Liberman, head of the Yisrael Beytenu party has picked up in the polls. Unlike the traditional hawkish right, Liberaman does not oppose a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. Rather, on his own account, he seeks to follow the national logic of partition further: Israel, he believes, should annex settlements close to the 1949 cease-fire line (known as the Green Line, the acknowledged international border), in return for carving up parts of Israel’s territory, and making them part of Palestine. The parts in question are densely populated with Arab citizens of Israel. So the plan would, Liberman claims, make for greater national integrity on both sides of the border.
On the face of it, there would be no human rights issue here, since the plan does not require any form of uprooting or “transfer.” But things are not so simple, since those Arab citizens of Israel have made it clear that they do not wish to be annexed to Palestine. The plan would thus requires coercing them to give up their citizenship, which is both illegal according to Israel’s law, and immoral in the eyes of most Israelis.
But even on Liberman’s own premises the plan makes little sense. The fear of losing the Jewish majority within Green Line Israel in the foreseeable future is unfounded. Demographic extrapolations suggest that if current trends persist (they are unlikely to, given the steady advance of feminism among Israel’s Arab population) the Arab minority will have grown from about 20% to about 26% by 2050. What is more, according to a recent study conducted by The Floersheimer Institute for Policy Studies, Liberman’s plan of partition would make, at most, some 148,000 of Israel’s Arab citizens, Palestinians. This would reduce the Arab minority by a mere 10%, at the grave price of distorting Israel’s legal structure, violating its Declaration of Independence (which explicitly guarantees legal equality to all citizens) and further alienating the remaining 90% percent of the Israel’s Arab population. Or in plain English, Liberman’s plan is a piece of jingoistic demagoguery, which would achieve nothing.

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