President Donald Trump’s “deal of the century” peace plan has raised an issue
many Arabs would prefer to avoid discussing. It was embraced by Israeli Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu because of its lopsided benefits for Israel and
shortcomings for Palestinians. And it included one issue that has sharply
divided Palestinians: Proposing that 350,000 Palestinian Arabs who live in the
Galilee Triangle in northern Israel be stripped of their Israeli citizenship
and moved into a Palestine state through a land swap. The ugly truth is that
many would prefer to be second-class citizens inside Israel than live in the
uncertainty of the proposed Palestinian state.
plan states that the Palestinian communities in the Galilee Triangle “were
originally designated to fall under Jordanian control during the negotiations
of the Armistice Line of 1949, but ultimately were retained by Israel for
military reasons that have since been mitigated. The vision contemplates the
possibility, subject to agreement of the parties, that the borders of Israel
will be redrawn such that the Triangle communities become part of the state of
polls over the years have confirmed that a majority of the Palestinians who
live in Israel and have Israeli citizenship would rather retain that status
quo. A poll taken in August 2000 of residents of the Arab community of Umm
Al-Fahm — an all-Palestinian village on the Israeli side of the 1949 armistice
line (the Green Line) — revealed that 83 percent said they would rather remain
under Israeli authority. Umm al-Fahm is one of the areas that, under the Trump
plan, would be traded to Palestine.
another poll focused on Palestinians living in East Jerusalem. Of those
surveyed, 40 percent said they would prefer to remain under Israeli authority.
the Arab world is overwhelmingly Muslim and Christians are a very small
minority. But in Israel — even though Christian Palestinians are abused just as
much by Israel’s racist policies, laws and societal norms as Muslims — the
Christian community inside Israel has a larger plurality. In other words,
Christians in Israel are a larger percentage of the population and that gives
them a sense of being better able to stand together as a community.
are taught to “turn the other cheek,” meaning do not fight or resist, but
instead take the abuse. Rather than fight, many just leave, which may be one
reason why the Christian population in Israel and the Arab world has shrunk so
Christian Palestinian myself, I know that the Christians are far less organized
and less active in fighting for Palestinian rights than Muslim Palestinians
are. In fact, I might even argue that many Jews inside Israel and in the West
are more aggressive in their advocacy for Palestinian rights than Christian
I am not
sure why this phenomenon exists but I can hypothesize. As a Christian
Palestinian activist with a strong opinion, I am often excluded from the
activist circles that want Christian Palestinians to “fall into line” and not
challenge the system. This might explain why many Palestinians are opposed to
Trump’s suggestion that those in the Galilee Triangle should accept being
placed under Palestinian state control.
mentioned above would not have been a surprise to Netanyahu, who understands
the reality of how many Palestinian citizens feel. He likely recognizes that
suggesting shifting the citizenship of the Palestinian Arabs who live inside
the Galilee Triangle will further divide the Palestinians.
But the truth
is that Palestinians are already so divided that any further splits are
essentially meaningless. It can’t get any worse than it already is.
Palestinians need is a leader who can bring them all together — inside and
outside of Israel — and give them hope. We need a “secular messiah” who can
lead the Palestinians out of bondage and into the promised land of statehood
that its citizens can view with confidence and even security.
Palestinian who dares to challenge some of the pillars of Palestinian extremism
is bullied and ostracized. These pillars include opposition to any of:
Normalization; compromising on the right of return; and accepting the fact that
the suffering of Palestinians comes not only as a result of Israel’s racist
policies, but also due to the actions of Palestinian extremists who would
rather blow themselves up to harm their foes than to embrace compromise with
their sworn enemy.
matter what Israelis do or how they think. What matters most is what
Palestinians do and what they think. If Palestinians can’t find a way to
tolerate differing views without responding with anger and emotion, or to come
together to form one strong, cohesive movement, there will never be a peace
plan that they can accept. Living in the status quo therefore becomes their
Hanania is an award-winning former Chicago City Hall political reporter and
Headline: Palestinians must unite despite threat of further division
Source: The Arab News