Israeli Forces Test Transfer Scenario

Secret drill simulates riots by Arab citizens

Israel secretly staged a training exercise last week to test its ability to quell any civil unrest that might result from a peace deal with the Palestinian Authority requiring the forcible transfer of many Arab citizens, the Israeli media has reported.

The drill was intended to evaluate the readiness of the civil defence units, police, army and prison service to contain large-scale riots by Israel’s Arab minority in response to such a deal.

The transfer scenario echoes a proposal by Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s far-right foreign minister, for what he has termed a “population exchange”.

Lieberman proposes land swaps that would force many of Israel’s 1.3 million Arab citizens into a future Palestinian state in return for annexation to Israel of most of the Jewish settlements in the West Bank. The scheme has been widely criticised as a violation of international law.

He outlined his proposal to the United Nations General Assembly last month. Although Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, said he was not consulted about the speech, he did not admonish Lieberman.

The training exercise has fuelled fears among Israel’s Arab minority that the government might be hoping to pressure Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, to agree to land and population swaps as part of US-sponsored peace negotiations, which have stalled.

Dov Chenin, a member of the Israeli parliament representing the joint Jewish-Arab Communist Party, called Tuesday for more details of the exercise from the government during a speech in the chamber, although officials offered no immediate response.

Chenin said the drill was a sign Israel was heading in an “extremely dangerous direction”.

A few years ago, only the extreme right-wing parties talked about transferring Arab citizens, but now we see that even the security forces are preparing concrete plans for carrying out such a scenario.

Netanyahu demanded this week that the Palestinians recognise Israel as a Jewish state before further progress was possible — a move seen by the Arab minority as a threat to its status inside Israel. A US State Department spokesman referred to recognition as “a core demand” and said it had Washington’s support.

Haneen Zoubi, an Arab member of parliament, said the exercise was designed to send “very clear messages” to the Arab minority and Abbas’ negotiators.

“Netanyahu is letting us know that we are not part of his vision of Israel’s future as a Jewish state and that, if we try to resist his plans, our protests will be greeted with violent repression,” she said.

“He also wants the Palestinian negotiators to understand his minimum requirements for an agreement. He is not interested in justice for the Palestinians or in creating a viable state.”

Details of the five-day drill were reported last weekend on the Voice of Israel radio station by Carmela Menashe, one of Israel’s most respected military correspondents.

The exercise envisioned extensive disturbances by Israel’s Arab citizens, one-fifth of the population, as security forces prepared to enforce border changes that would forcibly relocate many to a new Palestinian state, according to her report.

In the operation, code-named Warp and Weft, the security services established a large detention centre in the Galilee region between Nazareth and Tiberias to cope with an “unprecedented” number of arrests of Arab citizens.

The drill anticipated a rapid takeover of the West Bank by Hamas following the signing of the peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority. In the exercise, the security forces had to handle the firing of hundreds of rockets into Israel, terrorist attacks, prison riots and breakouts.

As Chenin raised his concerns, Lieberman opened a new front in his attacks on Israel’s Arab citizens, following his repeated statements questioning their loyalty to the state. While hosting the Finnish foreign minister on Tuesday, he accused groups of Arab citizens of plotting to secede from the state under orders from the Palestinians in the occupied territories.

“The Palestinians will try, through various groups among Israeli Arabs, to overturn the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state and will work to create different autonomous areas within the state,” he said.

Aluf Benn, a senior columnist for the Haaretz newspaper, wrote yesterday that Netanyahu was “hiding behind” Lieberman and that the prime minister was the “true instigator” of the wave of anti-Arab policies and laws the government was promoting.

On Sunday the cabinet approved a bill that would demand a loyalty oath from non-Jews seeking citizenship.

In the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, Ahmed Tibi, an Arab MP, accused Netanyahu of being behind “a gradual ethnic-cleansing scheme — removing as many Arabs as possible while creating a Jewish, homogenous Israel”.

Opinion polls among Israel’s Arab minority have repeatedly shown strong opposition to any plan to revoke their citizenship or force them into a Palestinian state.

The Association of Civil Rights in Israel, the country’s largest human-rights group, wrote to Netanyahu this week calling the media reports “alarming” and demanding assurances that there were no plans for “population transfer”.

It added that the impression was being created that “an issue which is completely illegitimate — the forced revocation of the citizenship of some of the country’s Arab citizens — is perceived by the government as a reasonable and even likely possibility”.

Some observers have speculated that the public security minister, Yitzhak Aharonovitch, who is a member of Lieberman’s Yisraeli Beiteinu Party, may have been the driving force behind the exercise.

However, Chenin said such an extensive drill involving so many different branches of the security forces could not have been carried out without the involvement of other government ministers, including Ehud Barak, the defence minister.

Barak, leader of the Labor party, has presented himself in Washington as a moderating influence on Israel’s right-wing government.

Jonathan Cook, based in Nazareth, Israel is a winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (Pluto Press) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair (Zed Books). Read other articles by Jonathan, or visit Jonathan's website.

5 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. bozh said on October 14th, 2010 at 9:16am #

    Surprise! The postulated surprise, finally revealed in print! But there are still other expectant surprises that one cld postulate as coming.
    Let’s not forge the expectant zionists’ tininess and total dependency of the evil empire on other evil empires, water shortage, and the fact that israel want more white ‘jews’ to come to israel.

    And these want a paradize and not hell that israel is now. Why leave paradize they have now in germany, canada, US in which they can amass fortunes by simply avoiding any honest work, and go to israel and draw water from a well or till the land? tnx for any ‘jewish’ finger!

  2. bozh said on October 14th, 2010 at 9:22am #

    I forgot to say that working ‘jews’, and particuarly of darker shades, don’t get rich.
    Did u notice that some darker rich ‘jews’ marry the whitest and nicest looking women. Oh, what the money cannot do! tnx

  3. Rehmat said on October 14th, 2010 at 10:29am #

    I don’t think Israelis need more destructive measures when they have already succeeded in where others have failed – using their ‘sexpionage’ weapon.

  4. hayate said on October 14th, 2010 at 9:20pm #

    Israeli policies are manifestly evil: Philip Giraldi Interview
    October 14th, 2010

    by Kourosh Ziabari

    Philip Giraldi is a former counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer of the United States Central Intelligence Agency. Now, he chairs the Council for the National Interest as the Executive Director. CNI is a nonprofit organization that advocates for the transformation of United States’ Middle East policy.

    As a CIA officer, Giraldi served in different countries including Turkey, Italy, Germany and Spain. He is now a Francis Walsingham Fellow at The American Conservative Defense Alliance. He has appeared on several radio and TV programs including Good Morning America, MSNBC, NPR, Fox News, BBC, Al-Jazeera and 60 Minutes.

    Giraldi works with the American Conservative magazine as a contributing editor and writes a regular column for the Antiwar website. He is an outspoken critic of the hawkish policies of the United States and has publicly decried Washington’s unconditional support for the state of Israel.

    Philip Giraldi joined me in an exclusive interview to discuss the latest developments of the Middle East, the prospect of Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the possibility of a peaceful compromise between Iran and the United States and the impact of Israeli lobby on the long-term policies of the White House.

    Kourosh Ziabari: Why is the Israeli lobby so powerful, influential and authoritative? Almost all of the major media conglomerates in the United States own to well-off Jews who are committed to maintaining the interests of the state of Israel in the U.S. Some experts say that Israel is the representative of the United States in the Middle East region, but some others suggest that it’s Israel which determines the future of political developments in the United States. What’s your take on that?

    Philip Giraldi: The Israel Lobby is so powerful because it deliberately set out to establish control over key elements in the United States. It has demonstrated a number of times that politicians who are perceived as being unfriendly to Israel will face serious problems in being reelected because the Lobby mobilizes to provide money and media support to opponents. This means that congress is afraid to oppose anything that Israel and its Lobby wants. The same holds true for the presidency. Every presidential candidate must be seen as friendly to Israel or he will be attacked in the media and denied millions of dollars in political contributions, making it a safer option to support Israel. Finally, pro-Israeli interests control much of the media and, more important, dominate the opinion and editorial pages, making the only narrative that most Americans hear about the Middle East highly favorable to Israel and highly critical of all Israel’s enemies. As a result, Israel is able to control U.S. foreign policy as it relates to the Middle East and also much of the Muslim world.

    Ziabari: The recent call by the Iranian President on framing a fact-finding group to probe into the 9/11 attacks sparked intense controversy around the United States. Is it because the United States considers 9/11 a red line which should not be crossed?

    Giraldi: Many Americans believe that 9/11 was never properly investigated. Some believe that the U.S. and, or Israeli governments were actually involved. The Federal government does not want the case to be reopened because a truly open investigation might reveal things that it would like to keep hidden. I do not know what exactly those things might be, but, at a minimum, there was a high level of incompetence within the government in the lead up to the attacks, both by Democrats and Republicans.

    Ziabari: The former Italian President had once said that Mossad had played a role in the 9/11 attacks. Is there any convincing evidence that Israel was behind the 9/11 attacks? Can we rely on some implications including the five dancing Israelis who were seen cheering while the Twin Towers collapsed, or the closure of Zim Shipping Company’s headquarters at the World Trade Center two week before the 9/11 attacks?

    Giraldi: Most intelligence officers believe that Israel, which was conducting a massive and illegal spy operation inside the U.S. aimed at Arabs living here, knew at least parts of the 9/11 conspiracy. It did not share that information and it is also clear that leading Israeli politicians welcomed the attacks because they made Washington a totally committed ally in full agreement with the Israeli view of Islamic terrorism. The Israel view, i.e. that anyone hostile to Israel is a terrorist, has done great damage to the United States because it has created enemies where no enemies previously existed.

    Ziabari: What’s your take on the exercise of double standards by the U.S. over Israel’s nuclear issue?

    Giraldi: There is no justification for Washington’s hypocrisy over Israel’s nuclear weapons program. Israel should be held to the same standard as everyone else, but the action of the Israeli Lobby means that it will never be accountable for anything as long as Washington is in a position to protect it.

    Ziabari: As someone who has closely worked with one of the most sensitive parts of the U.S. government, do you like the continuation of belligerence and hostility between Iran and the United States? Are these two nations fated to be at odds forever? Can you foresee promising horizons of reconciliation and friendship?

    Giraldi: I do not believe that Washington and Tehran are natural enemies. I believe that they have been turned into enemies by the media and the activity of the Israel Lobby. Unfortunately, that situation will not change until Washington completely overturns its policies in the Middle East, something that might not happen in our lifetimes. Many young Iranians, the bulk of the population, do not harbor any real hostility towards the United States and if the policies were to change I believe the two countries could again become friendly.

    Ziabari: Is it plausible to be a former CIA officer at the same time as being an outspoken critic of the U.S. administration? You’ve been quite forthright in your criticism of the U.S. foreign policy, especially with regards to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Haven’t been any pressure on you to soften your tone or retreat from your stance?

    Giraldi: I have never been pressured to soften my criticism of the US government’s foreign and security policies. There are many former intelligence officers who have also been highly critical of developments since 9/11. It is because intelligence officers quickly recognize lies when they hear them and are not very tolerant of a government that lies its way to war.

    Ziabari: Iran marked the 20th anniversary of the conclusion of 8-year war with Iraq last month. Iranians well remember that it was the United States and its European allies, who persuaded, equipped, funded and aided Saddam Hussein in invading Iran. 20 years later, they came together to topple the very Saddam they had supported in war with Iran. Saddam killed more than 400,000 Iranians. My uncle was one of them. Can you put yourself in the place of an Iranian citizen who witnessed the war? What would be your feeling then?

    Giraldi: For the United States, the support of Saddam Hussein against Iran was a quid pro quo that goes back to the holding of the U.S. Embassy hostages in Tehran after the Islamic revolution. It was revenge pure and simple in hopes that Iraq would prove victorious and bring down the Iranian government. As an Iranian, you have a right to be outraged by what happened but the Embassy seizure was also outrageous. The U.S. response was, as it often is, disproportional and I am ashamed of my government’s support of wars to fix political disputes.

    Ziabari: and for the final question, how do you estimate the prospect of Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

    Giraldi: There is no hope for resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict as long as the United States continues to permit the Israelis to expand and commit crimes against humanity directed towards the Palestinian people. Evil is evil no matter how you try to dress it up and the Israeli policies are manifestly evil. The Palestinians cannot ever accept a peace settlement that requires being held in a large outdoor prison camp by the Israelis supported by the United States.

  5. Mulga Mumblebrain said on October 15th, 2010 at 2:44am #

    Yes, Giraldi is good,isn’t he? Israel is devolving into the fascist kakistocracy that it always was destined to become. Colonialist projects like Israel ultimately either fail, like its lost love and fellow apartheid state, South Africa, or commit genocide against the indigenous, like Australia or the United States. The dispossessed natives are never content to ‘go elsewhere’ as the arrogant Zionist racists demanded, no matter how many faery stories about Eretz Yisrael being given to the Judaic Herrenvolk forever are driven down their (and our) throats.
    Netanyahu is a chip of the nasty, Zionazi, block that is his repulsive centenarian father, the fascist Jabotinsky’s secretary and pall-bearer. Netanyahu also follows the Mossad injunction to be devious, tricky and to lie without moral compunction when befooling the goy two-legged animals. I do not doubt for a second that Netanyahu, pere and fils, adhere to Kook the Elder’s infamous dictum that non-Jewish souls are closer to those of animals than to those of the Holy Ones. And the rampaging tide of race hatred directed against Obama by the Zionazi Right, despite his being a particularly craven arse-licker to their magnificent derrieres, and despite him being known to be long-held Zionazi property, lock, stock and barrel,just illustrates what radical evil Israel, as it descends ever deeper into racist terror and open fascism, represents to humanity, which, I regret to say, contradicting as I do their most cherished supremacist beliefs, includes Jewry.