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Lieberman Plan

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Part of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict
and Arab–Israeli conflict series
Israeli–Palestinian
Peace Process
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a The Golan Heights are not part of the Israeli-Palestinian process.

The Lieberman Plan, proposed May, 2004, also known in Israel as the "Populated-Area Exchange Plan", was proposed by Avigdor Lieberman, the leader of the Israeli political party Yisrael Beiteinu. The plan suggests an exchange of populated territories - territories populated by both Arabs and Jews - between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Lieberman maintains that everywhere in the world where there are two peoples with two religions a conflict exists and notes that in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the situation is worse as there is not only a religious conflict but also a nationalistic one. Therefore, the proposition is based on 'reduction of conflict' and maintains that the two peoples could live together but it would make no sense to live one inside the other. On top of this, Lieberman maintains that it makes no sense to create a Palestinian state that has no Jewish people while Israel is turned into a dual-population state with more than 20% of minorities.[1]

Arab-Israelis within the "Triangle" area of Israeli would lose their Israeli citizenship unless they move to within Israel's new borders and pledge a loyalty oath. In general, Arab Israelis are opposed to the plan and many believe it is racist. [2][3] The Israeli left opposes the plan. Akiva Eldar has stated that it undermines the moral high ground of Israel[4]. Haaretz has argued that the plan "is nothing but polite packaging that does not succeed in concealing its real aspiration: delegitimizing all the Arab citizens of Israel. "[5] Legal experts have cast doubt on the legality of such a move under Israeli and international law.

Lieberman's argument for the plan

Lieberman notes that the plan is not similar to a population exchange or population transfer, as he's not promoting a forcible removal of populations from their homes, but rather a redrawing of the border between Palestinian and Israeli communities to make them more homogeneous. In an open Q&A at liberal-left newspaper Haaretz, Lieberman noted that it is of great importance to have a partner in the Arab side and stated that he communicated his plan to the Palestinians and the Arab states prior to making it public in Israel. Lieberman stated his belief that the Arab world understands that his plan would be in the benefit of the region and cited that there were no denunciations from either the Palestinians or the Arab world to this plan.[1]

Demographics

The Lieberman Plan suggests a territorial exchange whereby Israel would acquire most Jewish settlements in the West Bank at the same time that it would cede Palestinian regions of Israel to the Palestinian Authority.[1] While there are three major Arab regions in Israel, all contiguous with the West Bank ((1) the southern and central Galilee, (2) the central region known as "the Triangle" and (3) the Bedouin region in the northern part of the Negev desert), the Lieberman Plan only advocates ceding the Triangle Arab communities. The ethnic Druze community, which is pro-Israel, would also remain part of Israel. All remaining citizens, whether Jews or Arabs would have to pledge an oath of allegiance to the state in order to keep their Israeli citizenship.[6]

Criticism

Arab citizens of Israel have criticized the plan for being racist and are, in general, opposed to it.[7] While the plan would not require them to leave their homes, Arabs in Israel argue that they are native to the region and insist that as Israeli citizens, they deserve equal rights within the state, and should not be singled out by ethnic or religious background. Various polls show that Arabs in Israel in general do not wish to move to the West Bank or Gaza if a Palestinian state is created there.[3] Other pro-Arab commentators have expressed skepticism that such a land-and-population transfer would result in the withdrawal of Israeli settlers and, hence, IDF soldiers, from areas of Israeli residence in the Lieberman-envisioned Palestinian state[8].

Several Israeli left-wing commentators, such as Akiva Eldar of Haaretz, have argued against the plan as well, stating that it undermines the moral high ground of Israel,[9] and Jewish critics sympathetic to the idea of exchanging populated territories have argued that it would be preferable to do this as part of a comprehensive peace agreement. They point out that while Arabs under the plan would still be allowed to retain Israeli citizenship if they take an oath of allegiance, no reciprocal possibility exists.

Critics on the political and religious right oppose the plan on the argument that it would surrender large portions of territory to a hostile entity, threatening the security of Israel.

Legality

A number of legal experts questioned by the Jerusalem Post argued that stripping Israeli Arabs of citizenship as part of a population and territorial swap with the Palestinian Authority would be illegal under Israeli and international law. They stated that Israel could decide that the "Triangle area", which is populated mostly by Israeli Arabs, is no longer part of Israel but that she could not revoke the citizenship of the people living there. However, parliamentary and constitutional law teacher, Suzie Navot, argued that the legality of the plan wasn't clear.[10]

Since no such law exists by which citizenship can be lost due to a land transfer, then a bill to enact the plan must be passed by the Knesset. The Israeli High Court would then rule on the bill's legality. [10]

Yisrael Beiteinu's legal adviser, Ramat Gan attorney Yoav Many believes the plan is legal and "would be accepted not just in Israel but also within the international community".[10]

References

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