Israeli deputy FM advice to Arab minority sparks anger

JERUSALEM - Arab Israeli MPs were angered on Saturday by advice from Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon that their minority should be transferred to a future Palestinian state.
"Arab Israelis say they are proud of being Palestinians. So they have nothing to lose if they decide to go and live within a Palestinian state," Ayalon said in an interview with the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat.

Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon
Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon
"It would also be in the interests of a Palestinian state because the Arabs of Israel can contribute, with their experience, to its social and economic development," he said.
Ayalon, however, stressed that Israel was not trying "to get rid of them."
Such remarks show that Ayalon does "not understand anything about human rights and democracy," MP Ahmad Tibi told reporters. Arab Israelis are "not pawns" to be moved around at will.
Mohammed Barakeh, another Arab Israeli MP, likened the statement to those of far-right parties in Europe.
But Israel's minister for minorities, Avishai Braverman, also joined in the criticism of Ayalon, saying his words "do not reflect in any way the position of the government."
Israel's Arab community numbers 1.3 million and accounts for 20 percent of the mainly Jewish state's population. It includes the descendants of the 160,000 Palestinians who remained in Israel after the 1948 Middle East war.

Sunday, February 14th 2010

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