Qalansawe, Palestine: one of ten towns slated by Donald’s Trump’s Middle East “Peace” Plan to be transferred from Israel to a future Palestinian state. To fully understand what this means, it is helpful to see Palestinians as though they exist within a totem pole that was created by Israel. There are different levels of existence into which Palestinians are born, levels that were determined by their oppressors, first the Zionist movement, and then the State of Israel. The refugees who live in the squalor of the camps in and around Palestine are at the bottom of the totem pole. Then, there are the Palestinians residing in areas of Palestine occupied by Israel in 1967 and referred to as The West Bank and Gaza. And then there are those who live within the original boundaries of Israel and possess Israeli citizenship – these are the ones slated for transfer. At the top sit Palestinians living abroad as equal citizens in countries across the globe.
“Forgotten Palestinians,” this is the title of a book by Ilan Pappe, which describes in great detail the fate of the Palestinian citizens of Israel. Generally speaking, there are two points of view about the position of the Palestinian citizens of Israel: That of the oppressor, Israel, and that of the Palestinians themselves. Within Israel, there are two parallel conversations about this oppressed community which, it is worth mentioning, never took up arms and what resistance they have put up came as a result of the theft of their lands and destruction of their country and that was done through the political and cultural avenues afforded to them by the state. Depending on the period and the people engaged in the discussion, Palestinian citizens of Israel are either a fifth column or a thriving minority with all the rights of citizens. However, neither one of these is an accurate description.
Israel was never happy with the fact that there were Palestinians who remained within the boundaries of Palestine at all and certainly not within what became Israel in 1948. In efforts that began in the early twentieth century and intensified gradually until reaching a crescendo in the 1948 ethnic cleansing campaign, Zionist forces in Palestine did everything in their power to rid the country of its original people, the Palestinians.
By early 1949, when the actual boundaries of the newly formed state of Israel were determined in the ceasefire agreements with neighboring countries, there were only about 200,000 native Palestinians within the boundaries of the state. From that point on, until 1967, the talk of Palestinians was focused mainly on the refugees living in camps and around Palestine. After 1967, the conversation shifted and focus was placed on those living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Somehow, Palestinian citizens of Israel are rarely discussed.
Israel has gone to great lengths to prevent its Palestinian citizens from ever becoming, or even feeling equal to Jewish Israelis. One method used effectively by Israel is the segregation of schools. Because the State of Israel believes in the superiority of the Jewish citizens, everything from facilities to curriculum and from class sizes to budgets reflects the state’s desire to maintain inequality.
Perhaps due to the twenty-five books he read, Jared Kushner, President Trump’s Zionist son-in-law, included the forgotten Palestinian citizens of Israel in the plan that he put together and named, “Peace to Prosperity.” This plan, more commonly known as the “Deal of the Century,” includes a passage which would have been unthinkable in any plan before it, namely the transfer of residents of Palestinian towns with Israeli citizenship to another state, one that does not yet exist and will likely never exist, the future State of Palestine.
On page 13 of the plan, under the heading “Borders,” it says the following:
The Triangle Communities consist of Kafr Qara, Ar’ ara, Baha al-Gharbiyye, Umm al Fahm, Qalansawe, Tayibe, Kafr Qasim, Tira, Kafr Bara and Jaljulia. These communities, which largely self-identify as Palestinian, 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 Palestine. In this agreement, the civil rights of the residents of the triangle communities would be subject to the applicable laws and judicial rulings of the relevant authorities.
The residents of all the cities and towns mentioned here are citizens of the state of Israel. This proposal is not unlike suggesting that the U.S. Mexico border be redrawn and that all ethnically Mexican communities in the U.S. be stripped of their U.S. citizenship and become part of Mexico.
As for the claim that they were designated to fall under Jordanian control in 1949 “but ultimately were retained by Israel for military reasons,” this is a delicate way to explain that these communities were used as pawns in Israel’s drawing of its boundaries and now they will once again be used as pawns. They were not given a voice when the decision was made in 1949 to include them in Israel, and clearly, they have not been given a voice in this new plan.
Taking away people’s rights
In reality, this is an attempt to force Palestinian citizens of Israel down the totem pole to a place where their rights will be even more limited. Israel controls the lives of all Palestinians in one way or another and this plan intends to force the citizens of Israel into a reality where they have even fewer rights than they currently do because Israel has so determined it. The plan states correctly that these communities identify as Palestinians, which is not surprising because they are in fact, Palestinians. The plan proposes to transfer control over these areas to what will surely be tightly controlled Bantustans with little to no ability for the residents to determine their fate, for the sole purpose of making Israel more racially homogenous.
The game that is played here is called, “Let’s pretend there is a Palestinian state.” Well, there isn’t one and it isn’t likely there ever will be such a state that is separate from Israel. Any attempt to free the region from the terror that has ruled it for so long will require transforming Palestine from an apartheid regime and creating a real democracy with equal rights in its place.
James Baldwin once wrote about the United States that it is “A country that has told itself so many lies about its history, that in sober fact has yet to excavate its history from the rubble of romance.” This could not be truer when speaking about Israel.
Feature photo | In this Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020, photo, an Israeli Arab youth sits at a viewpoint overlooking the Israeli Arab town of Umm al-Fahm. Oded Balilty | AP
Miko Peled is an author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. He is the author of “The General’s Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” and “Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.”
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