by Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man
A senior minister in the Israeli government and a close ally of Prime Minister Netanyahu warned the Palestinian people over the weekend of mass expulsion and ethnic cleansing if they don’t put an end to the current round of violence.
“Remember 1948” and “remember 1967,” Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi wrote in a statement posted to Facebook on Saturday, responding to the murder of three Israeli civilians inside their home in the West Bank settlement of Halamish the night before. “This is how a ‘Nakba’ begins.”
(Find a full translation of Hangebi’s statement below.)
“Nakba” is the Palestinian name for the events surrounding 1948, when some 700,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled by Israeli forces as part of the war that led to the establishment of Israel. Israel allowed neither those whom it expelled nor those who fled during the fighting to return once the war was over, leading to a massive refugee crisis that continues to this day. Another 300,000 or so Palestinians were forced to flee during the 1967 Six-Day War, roughly half of whom were refugees from 1948.
“When you want to stop it all it will already be gone,” Hanegbi wrote, suggesting that the current cycle of violence will lead Israel to carry out another mass expulsion or to the displacement of Palestinians. “It will already be after the third Nakba.”
“You’ve already paid that crazy price twice for your leaders,” he continued, urging the Palestinian public to break from their leaders, whom he described as reckless, religious zealots. “Don’t try us again because the result won’t be any different.”
Israel regularly accuses the Palestinians of incitement to violence against Jews and Israelis, yet nobody in the Israeli government has condemned Hanegbi’s warning of ethnic cleansing. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not fired him, demanded he retract the threat to carry out a war crime, nor has any Israeli official made public any indication that such statements are unacceptable.
The Netanyahu government has portrayed Palestinian incitement as one of the major hurdles to peace in the most recent American attempts to re-start a peace process.
Violence broke out in Jerusalem and the West Bank in recent days as Palestinians protested new Israeli security measures outside Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, unilaterally installing new fixed checkpoints to control the entry of Muslim worshipers into the site. The metal detectors were installed after three Palestinian citizens of Israel perpetrated killed two Israeli policemen at the site.
A delicate “status quo,” negotiated by Israel and Jordan after Israel conquered East Jerusalem in 1967, has been in place for the past 50 years; the Palestinians and much of the Muslim world view Israel’s new security measures as a violation of that status quo, and one of a string of Israeli attempts to assert increasing sovereignty over the holy site.
The largest protests have been nonviolent prayers in the streets of Jerusalem, but Israeli security forces have killed at least three Palestinians in clashes since the weekend. On Friday night, a Palestinian man murdered three civilian settlers in their West Bank home, which he said was related to Israeli violations of Al-Aqsa in a Facebook post before his murderous rampage.
Here is the full text of Hanegbi’s statement that he posted to Facebook (my translation):
My message to the Palestinians in an interview with Channel 2 and other media outlets following the cruel murder in the settlement of Halamish:
This is how a ‘Nakba’ begins.
Just like this.
It begins with zealot religious leaders whom Allah promised the whole world.
It continues with radical, reckless leaders for whom the spilling of blood, even if it is your blood, fits their own short-term interests.
And it permeates the religiously ignorant masses who only yearn to become “martyrs.”
When you want to stop it all it will already be gone.
It will already be after the third “Nakba.”
After the disaster. After the tragedy.
You’ve already paid that crazy price twice for your leaders.
Don’t try us again because the result won’t be any different.
You’ve been warned!
Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man is the editor-in-chief of +972 Magazine and a regular contributor of both reporting and analysis. Prior to joining +972 he worked as the news desk manager for JPost.com. Reprinted, with permission, from +972 Magazine.