Land Swaps and the Issue of the Israeli Arabs

Whether the issue of the political-legal status of Israeli Arabs is raised in negotiations or not, this issue is likely to influence the triangular relationship between Israel, the future Palestinian state and Israel's Arab citizens.
Ha'aretz recently published several articles dealing with the option of swapping land land populated by Israeli Arabs with certain Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Two of the more prominent articles were written by Gidon Biger and Shaul Arieli.

Biger claims that "there is no escaping the transfer of Jewish populated territory to Israel while moving Arab populated territories to a Palestinian state". Arieli meanwhile, raises a series of difficulties that are likely to turn the option of territory exchange into "unrealistic and dangerous."

Whether the issue of the political-legal status of Israeli Arabs is raised in negotiations or not, this issue is likely to influence the triangular relationship between Israel, the future Palestinian state and Israel's Arab citizens as well as raising several questions:

  • Citizenship - Should dual Palestinian-Israeli citizenship (dual-passports) be permitted?

  • Self-Determination - Will the establishment of a Palestinian state fully realize the Right to Self-Determination for the entire Palestinian People, including Israeli-Arabs, and remove the issue from the political agenda? Alternatively, even after the establishment of a Palestinian state, will Israeli-Arabs claim that their Right to Self-Determination has yet to be realized.

  • Representation - Will a Palestinian state represent only its citizens and residents? Will there be a complete overlap between the territory and the population represented by the Palestinian state or
    will the Palestinian state claim to represent every Palestinian - resident or citizen of its territory or outside of it - including Israeli-Arabs?

  • Special Status According to the Agreements - Will the State of Israel recognize the unique rights of its Arab citizens vis-à-vis the Palestinian state, especially in the areas of diplomatic representation, personal status and commercial operations?

For more information, see Reut's document Permanent Status of the Political-Legal Status of Israeli Arabs

Sources

Gideon Biger, "The Only way to Agreement" Ha'aretz, 8/14/07; full article.

Shaul Arieli, "Not the way to Achieve a Majority" Ha'aretz 9/3/07; full article.