In 2006, Avigdor Lieberman, now Israel’s foreign minister but then just the head of the right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party, called on U.S. Ambassador Richard Jones to press his controversial idea that “separation of Israeli Jews from Israeli Arabs is necessary,” referring to those Palestinians who live within Israel proper and hold Israeli citizenship. But, according to a U.S. diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks, Jones pushed back:
Lieberman asserted that states that are composed of different “nations” continue to experience conflict. The Ambassador noted that the United States maintains its diversity without experiencing such conflict.
In the memo, titled “RIGHT-WING LIEBERMAN UNABASHEDLY ADVOCATES TRANSFER OF ISRAELI ARABS,” Lieberman was short on specifics for his proposals for Israeli-Palestinian peace. In what he called “creative” solutions, he proposed shifting the borders of future Israeli and Palestinian states to include Palestinian villages within Israel in a Palestinian state and Israeli settlements in the West Bank within Israel. But the cable noted that Lieberman did not address settlements like Ariel, which is deeper into the West Bank, or the fate of mixed cities inside Israel, which the now-foreign minister acknowledged were “more complicated.”
Lieberman also proposed to Jones that Israel institute a “loyalty oath” that would strip citizenship from those who refused it. Lieberman acknowledged that most Palestinian citizens of Israel would never accept it, accusing them of only wanting to retain their citizenship because of the “social benefits” they receive from the state. Just such a bill was introduced in the Knesset last fall by a legislator from Lieberman’s party. It was watered down on its way through parliamentary procedures before failing to pass. (HT: Joseph Dana)