RAMALLAH, September 11, 2016 (WAFA) - Arab Knesset Member Ahmad Tibi, said that the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent comparison of Palestinian citizens of Israel with its illegal settlers in Occupied Palestine is not only immoral, but a total departure from rationality, history and Israel‘s obligations under international law, said an opinion piece published by the Israeli daily, Haartez.
“He [Netanyahu] should realize that no matter Israel‘s institutionalized system of discrimination, this is our homeland and we are here to stay.”
The Knesset member stressed that Palestinian citizens of Israel are not foreign immigrants that came to Israel and applied for visas or citizenship, rather Israel went to them. They are the indigenous population of the country.”
“They lived there way long before the Zionist movement was created. They are those who later survived the Nakba of 1948, where 85% of the Palestinians living in what is now Israel were ethnically cleansed only because they were not Jews. Yes, they can tell Mr. Netanyahu about the meaning of ethnic cleansing on this land.”
Tibi rejected ‘the comparisons stated by Netanyahu between our existence and the presence of settlers in Occupied Palestine.’
“We are not Israeli settlers, Mr. Netanyahu. Comparing us with the illegality of a foreign occupation only reflects your belief that nobody else other than Jews could call this place homeland,” he said.
He addressed Netanyahu as saying that, “Over 1.5 million Palestinians in Israel will continue to challenge your racist attitude and systematic denial of human rights, including dozens of laws that only target non-Jews in Israel. We will continue with our demands for equal rights in the place that we have inhabited for generations, rather than taking over the land of another people living under a foreign military occupation.”
He added that the colonization of an occupied territory is a war crime under international law.
“Illegal Israeli settlements in Occupied Palestine are not "ancient communities that have been living there for 3,000 years" but illegal colonial structures aimed at systematically denying the Palestinian right to self-determination.”
He said, [settlements] ‘are illegal not because they are Jews but simply because they colonize an occupied territory Period.’
He said that Israel has only used Israeli settlements as an excuse to annex more occupied Palestinian land.
“It is time for Mr. Netanyahu and his extremist government to understand reality: No matter how many tweets or videos they issue, no matter his strong support for colonizing the Occupied State of Palestine or his constant racism against his own non-Jewish, Palestinian citizens, he won‘t be able to make us feel as strangers in our own homeland.”
Tibi added, “Mr. Netanyahu should memorize the words of the Palestinian poet from Al Birwa, Mahmoud Darwish: "And here I am. I am I. And here is here. I am I. And I am here. Here." This is the message of over 1.5 million of Palestinian citizens to him and his racist newspeak.’
Tibi is the deputy speaker of Israel‘s Knesset, representing the Arab Joint List. He is the leader of the Ta‘al (the Arab Movement for Change) party.