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January 10, 2014 1:37 pm

Israel-Arabs Prefer to Remain Israelis, Despite FM Lieberman’s Call for Territory Swap (VIDEO)

avatar by Joshua Levitt

A resident of Umm al-Fahm who prefers to live under Israeli, rather than PA rule. Photo: Screenshot / Channel 10.

A resident of Umm al-Fahm who prefers to live under Israeli, rather than PA rule. Photo: Screenshot / Channel 10.

Israeli-Arabs, living in a fertile area along the Green Line, between Jerusalem and Ramallah, called the Triangle, said they prefer to be Israelis rather than Palestinians, rejecting Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s proposal to cede sovereignty over 10 towns in the area, home to 300,000 Israeli-Arabs, to the Palestinian Authority in exchange for a similar amount of land developed by Jewish settlers.

“Without territorial and population swaps, I don’t intend to support this agreement. Yes, indeed. I’m referring to the Triangle and Wadi Ara,” Lieberman said recently. “The border will be moved to what is today more or less Road 6.”

In a man-in-the-street report by Israel’s Channel 10, uploaded to the internet with subtitles, residents of Umm al-Fahm, one of the main two cities in the Triangle, said they would simply prefer to remain under Israeli rule.

One Israeli-Arab, interviewed in the report, said, “I don’t want to be under Abbas’ or the Palestinians’ rule. I want to stay here under Israeli rule.”

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When asked if he considered himself a Palestinian or an Israeli, the man responded, “I’m a Palestinian but also an Israeli.”

Inside a coffee shop, a card player interviewed in the report answered the question, “I’m both. I’m a Palestinian but also an Israeli-Arab. I have a blue ID card like the Jewish citizens.”

Inside an Umm al-Fahm mall, a woman interviewed by Channel 10 said, “We love Israel. We love living in Israel. Our whole life is in Israel. We don’t want to live with the Palestinians and have nothing in Palestine.”

When the Triangle proposal was first put forward by Lieberman in 2000, a survey conducted by Israeli-Arab weekly Kul al-Arab among 1,000 residents of Umm al-Fahm, found that 83 percent opposed transferring their city to the PA.

The Triangle, HaMeshulash, in Hebrew, or al-Muthallath, in Arabic, is split between the Central and Haifa Districts of Israel, in the eastern Plain of Sharon, in the Samarian foothills. Its geography, made it important for Israel militarily, and it was awarded to Israel officially in the 1949 Armistice Agreement as part of a swap, with Transjordan receiving Wadi Fukin, in the southern hills of Hebron.

Internally, the Triangle has developed economically under Israeli sovereignty, while it is split politically, with three towns surrounding the small city of Umm al-Fahm, around the lush Wadi Ara, in the north, being separate from the five surrounding towns around Taibe, in the south.

Watch the report from residents of Umm al-Fahm:

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