Ben Hartman
The Jerusalem Post
March 30, 2011 - 12:00am

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said that Palestinian non-violent popular resistance of the West Bank barrier has been successful in convincing the world to reconsider the Palestinian cause and advanced the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, in a radio address commemorating "Land Day" on Wednesday.

"Land remains the core of the Palestinian cause, and the reason for our existence and future," Fayyad said. "We [have been] here since the very beginning and we are certainly staying until the very end."

The Palestinian prime minister added that Land Day represents the Palestinian "long struggle" against land seizure, settlements, home demolitions and displacement.

MK Ahmed Tibi, told demonstrators gathered in the unrecognized Beduin town of Al-Arakib: "The color of our skin is the same as the color of the earth here. Still, there are those whose skin is the color of the snow in Moldova who are looking to expel us and dispossess us from this land," Tibi said, in an apparent reference to Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

Al-Arakib has been demolished and rebuilt nearly two dozen times in the last year by the Israel Lands Authority and Israel Police.

"This land here speaks Arabic," Tibi said. Adding that "rising racism" in Israel demands greater Jewish-Arab cooperation on the protest front.

Organizers said 1,500 people attended the protest in Al-Arakib.

MK Taleb El-Sana (United Arab List) said that this year’s Land Day took place while “Lieberman’s laws are posing a threat to democracy and co-existence in Israel. There is widespread incitement against the Arab community in Israel and it is acted out through actions like home demolitions and legislation like the Nakba Law.”

El-Sana said the current Knesset is carrying out “legislative terror” against Israeli Arabs and Israeli democracy, and forcing Arabs “into a position where they must either choose between being part of their Palestinian nationality or part of Israel.”

He added that he has no doubt that the threats to Israel’s democracy are getting worse and said “I believe that like in Tunisia where greater and greater pressure exerted by the government led to an explosive situation, also here we have continued government pressure that is leading us somewhere no one can predict.”

MK Mohammad Barakeh (Hadash) said on Wednesday that burning pictures of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, as Arab protesters did at a Land Day protest in Lod, is legitimate.

In an interview with Israel Radio, he said that "burning a picture of Lieberman is a legitimate expression of protest against a party that challenges the basic existence of the Arab population."

According to Barakeh, "the only policy the government has towards the Arab public is racist legislation in the Knesset."

Barakeh also said that Arab MKs will make sure that the Land Day protests will go on as planned, adding that the police should keep a distance and not get involved.

Earlier in the day, Israeli Arabs kicked off Land Day with a protest in Lod, where photos of Avigdor Lieberman were reportedly burned, something that Tibi denied seeing.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017