Israeli minister calls Arab MPs 'war criminals'
Jerusalem (AFP) –
Israel's defence minister on Monday called Arab MPs "war criminals" a day after he urged a boycott of Israeli Arabs living near the scene of clashes over the US president's Jerusalem declaration.
Avigdor Lieberman was speaking in a televised parliamentary debate on a motion of no confidence in the right-wing government filed by the mainly Arab Joint List alliance.
Presenting the motion, Joint List lawmaker Hanin Zoabi said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "should be tried at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, because he is a war criminal."
"Occupation is always belligerent, violent, illegitimate and a basis for war crimes," she added, referring to Israel's 50-year occupation of the Palestinian territories.
"All the Joint List are war criminals, every one of you," Lieberman responded.
The alliance has 12 Arab members and one Jew.
"You exploit the weaknesses and advantages of a democratic state to destroy us from within, we have no illusions," he told them.
"You are here by mistake and the time will come when you will not be here."
Arab Israelis are descendants of Palestinians who remained on their land following the creation of Israel in 1948. Today they account for some 17.5 percent of the population.
Lieberman has long advocated land-swaps in a future peace deal that would see some Arab areas of Israel handed over to the Palestinians in exchange for Israeli retention of some West Bank Jewish settlements.
He has also proposed conditioning the Arabs' continued Israeli citizenship on them taking oaths of loyalty to the Jewish state.
Dozens of Arab Israelis on Saturday night blocked the Wadi Ara intersection in northern Israel, police said, throwing stones at vehicles and burning tyres in protest at Donald Trump's declaration of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
The windows of a bus were smashed and its driver was slightly injured. Police arrested two minors and a man from Arara, an Arab town in the Wadi Ara area.
Speaking to Israeli army radio the next day, Lieberman proposed collective punitive sanctions.
"Those who demonstrate in Israel holding Hezbollah, Hamas and PLO flags are not part of the state of Israel," Lieberman said.
"I therefore call on Israeli citizens to impose an economic boycott on Wadi Ara -- don't shop there, don't eat in the restaurants and don't buy services from them."
Jewish Israelis must simply "give them the feeling they're not wanted here," he said, noting instances in which Arabs from the area carried out attacks against Israelis or supported militant activities.
Clashes and protests erupted in the Palestinian territories after Trump's declaration last Wednesday, but there has been relatively little unrest within Israel itself.
© 2017 AFP