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Political Uproar in Israel over Proposal to Transfer Arabs from the Territories to Jordan

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Likud Deputy Defense Minister Michael Dekel’s declaration in support of transferring Arabs from the territories to Jordan has prompted an uproar in political circles.

Dekel, speaking to the Netanya branch of the Herut movement Monday, suggested the transfer as the only solution to the Palestinian problem.

Dekel was quoted as saying, “In order to avoid having this area turn into a powder keg aimed at the United States, which is interested in stability in the area, the Western countries have the moral and political responsibility to handle the transfer of the Arab population of Judea and Samaria to their country–the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.” The U.S. State Department reacted sharply to Dekel’s remarks Friday saying it “utterly rejects” the idea of a transfer.

“This contradicts efforts to promote an atmosphere of reconciliation and trust between Arabs and Israel in which progress can be made toward peace and a just solution to the Palestinians based on United Nations Security Council proposal 242,” said Charles Redman, State Department spokesman.

Redman noted Dekel’s remarks had “inspired a strong negative reaction” from the Israeli press and members of various political parties.

REACTIONS TO THE PROPOSAL

The radical left Progressive List for Peace, in response to Dekel’s remarks, immediately introduced a motion of non-confidence in the government. But Premier Yitzhak Shamir said Likud did not back Dekel’s idea. Other Likud MKs, such as Meir Cohen-Avidov, supported Dekel’s suggestion.

Labor Party leader and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres called Dekel’s statement “nonsense.” Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin, of Labor, said the proposal indicates the extent of Dekel’s and others’ fear of the demographic dangers of incorporating the territories into Israel.

Speaking to a Labor Party gathering Wednesday, Rabin said, “All the talk of a transfer, or of second-class citizens, is in effect, an admission of the failure of the concept of a democratic greater Israel with Jewish values.

“Those backing a greater Israel who do not say transfer, or second-class citizens, are purportedly saying we’ll give them the right to vote In the event, the 2.2 million Arabs who are eligible to vote will tilt the balance and turn Israel into a non-Zionist country.” Rabin favors a territorial compromise.

Peres, reflecting a prominent Labor position, said last week Israel had the choice of dividing the land with the Palestinians and imposing a partition on the country, or sharing the government with Palestinians in a confederation.

Rabin added, “The talk of transfer is the start of moral collapse. Is it conceivable that a Jew would talk about transfer?”

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