Lieberman slams Palestinians over Nakba protest
Published Wednesday 07/05/2014 (updated) 15/05/2014 22:00
Palestinian protesters hold up the Palestinian flag as they march
for the right of return for Palestinian refugees who fled their
homes or were expelled during the 1948 war, during a protest
rally near Tiberias in northern Israel, on May 6, 2014.
(AFP Ahmad Gharabli)
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Wednesday denounced as a "fifth column" thousands of Palestinian citizens of Israel who joined a demonstration calling for the right of return for Palestinian refugees.
Around 10,000 protesters, many waving Palestinian flags, joined a rally in northern Israel on Tuesday to remember 530 villages from which some 760,000 people fled or were expelled following the creation of Israel in 1948.
The rally took place as Israel marked its 66th Independence Day, with Lieberman accusing the demonstrators of being traitors.
"Those who marched with flags of the Palestinian Authority demanding that it not give up on the right of return, are a fifth column whose aim is the destruction of Israel," he told army radio.
He also addressed the demonstration on his Facebook page on Tuesday.
"To those Arabs that took part today in the 'Nakba Day' procession and waved Palestinian flags, I suggest that next time they march directly to Ramallah and they stay there," he wrote.
But he acknowledged that those who joined the Nakba demonstration were only "a minority" among Israel's Palestinian minority, who make up just over a fifth of the overall population of 8.2 million.
At the rally, which took place in a small village in northern Israel, the protester marched under the slogan: "Your 'independence' day is our Nakba" - the Arabic for catastrophe.
More than 760,000 Palestinians fled or were driven out of their homes during the creation of Israel in 1948. Today, with their descendants, they number an estimated 4.8 million.
Lieberman, a hardliner within the ruling right-wing coalition, is an open proponent of the concept of "transfer" -- transferring densely-populated Palestinian areas in Israel to the control of the PA in any future peace deal.