Israeli minister calls for boycott of Arab businesses over violent protests

Israeli minister calls for boycott of Arab businesses over violent protests

Avigdor Lieberman said Jewish Israelis should no longer visit Arab villages and are "not part of us"

Avigdor Lieberman
Avigdor Lieberman

The defence minister of Israel is calling for a boycott of Arab businesses where residents carried out violent protests against the US president’s recognition of Jerusalem as his country’s capital.

Avigdor Lieberman said the Arabs of Wadi Ara in northern Israel are “not part of us” and Jewish Israelis should no longer visit their villages and buy their products.

He spoke to Army Radio after hundreds of Israeli Arabs protested on Saturday along a major road.

Dozens of masked rioters hurled stones at bus and police vehicles.

Three Israeli people were wounded and several vehicles damaged.

The protests were part of a Palestinian “day of rage” following Donald Trump’s announcement that he planned to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem.

Mr Lieberman has long called for Wadi Ara to be incorporated into a future Palestinian state.

 Mr Lieberman, who heads the nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party, said: “These people do not belong to the state of Israel. They have no connection to this country.

“Moreover, I would call on all citizens of Israel – stop going to their stores, stop buying, stop getting services, simply a boycott on Wadi Ara. They need to feel that they are not welcome here.”

He wants Wadi Ara included in his proposed swap of lands and populations as part of a future peace agreement with the Palestinians.

The residents, like many of Israel’s Arab minority, sympathise with the Palestinians of the West Bank and often openly identify with them.

But they are also Israeli citizens who largely reject the notion of becoming part of a future Palestinian state.

Ayman Odeh, head of the Arab Joint list in parliament, said Mr Lieberman’s call for a boycott of Arabs was reminiscent of the worst regimes in history.

Gilad Erdan, the minister of public security from the ruling Likud Party, said that Mr Lieberman’s diplomatic plan was not applicable and he rejected the notion of giving up the country’s sovereignty just because it had Arab citizens.

Protests and demonstrations took place on Saturday across the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, lands captured by Israel during the 1967 war that the Palestinians want to be part of their future state.

Four Palestinians were killed in Gaza in Israeli airstrikes following rocket fire from there and in clashes along the border.

Overall, however, the three days of protests passed relatively peacefully amid fears that they could spark another violent Palestinian uprising.

The status of Jerusalem lies at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and Mr Trump’s move was widely perceived as siding with Israel.

The announcement triggered denunciations from around the world, even from close allies, that suggested he had needlessly stirred more conflict in an already volatile region.

In Israel, the move was embraced as a long overdue acknowledgement of Israel’s seat of parliament and government and the historic capital of the Jewish people dating back 3,000 years.

Upon departing for a diplomatic visit to Paris and Brussels, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “While I respect Europe, I am not prepared to accept a double standard from it.

“I hear voices from there condemning President Trump’s historic statement but I have not heard condemnations of the rockets fired at Israel or the terrible incitement against it.

“I am not prepared to accept this hypocrisy, and as usual at this important forum I will present Israel’s truth without fear and with head held high.”

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