Sharp response to Israeli PM's 'ethnic cleansing' claim

SBS World News Radio: Israel's Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, is facing criticism for releasing a video accusing Palestinian authorities of advocating what he describes as "ethnic cleansing".

Sharp response to Israeli PM's 'ethnic cleansing' claim

Sharp response to Israeli PM's 'ethnic cleansing' claim Source: SBS

If Binyamin Netanyahu's aim was to provoke a swift reaction with his social media video release, he would not have been disappointed.

Accused by the Israeli Prime Minister of effectively promoting "ethnic cleansing", Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas hit back immediately, saying Israel is the one committing the cleansing and is being internationally isolated as a result.

The charge has been articulated by one of his senior aides, Saeb Erekat.

"Look at what's happening in East Jerusalem, what's happening in our villages, towns, and the creation of the apartheid wall. There are roads in the West Bank that we cannot use any more as Palestinians, only Israelis can use (them). There is a deeper apartheid system being created in the occupied Palestinian territories than that which existed in South Africa."

In the video, Mr Netanyahu expresses disbelief that West Bank Jewish communities, in what he calls Judea and Samaria, are considered an obstacle to peace when there are almost two million Arabs living in Israel.

"Israel's diversity shows its openess and readiness for peace. Yet the Palestinian leadership actually demands a Palestinian state with one pre-condition: no Jews. There's a phrase for that. It's called ethnic cleansing. And this demand is outrageous. It's even more outrageous that the world doesn't find this outrageous."

Israel has been widely criticised, including by its close ally the United States, for building settlements in territories it captured in 1967 - land the Palestinians want as part of their future state.

US State Department spokeswoman, Elizabeth Trudeau, has described Mr Netanyahu's language as "inappropriate and unhelpful,", saying settlement activity continues to hamper the peace process.

"Let's be clear, the undisputed fact is that already this year, thousands of settlement units have been advanced for Israelis in the West Bank, illegal outposts and unauthorised settlement units have been retroactively legalised, more West Bank land has been seized for exclusive Israeli use, and there has been a dramatic escalation of demolitions resulting in over 700 Palestinian structures destroyed, displacing more than 1,000 Palestinians. As we've said many times before, this does raise real questions about Israel's long-term intentions in the West Bank."

Israel's National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Minister, Yuval Steinitz, has jumped to his leader's defence.

"With all due respect to our best friends in the United States, I think they're wrong. You shouldn't underestimate Palestinian incitement and the Palestinian vision of cleaning, sooner or later, not just Judea and Samaria (West Bank) but entire Palestine or the entire land of Israel from the Jews. Thank you."

Palestinian authorities have urged the world to respond to the video by taking action against Israel.

They want a UN Security Council resolution condemning its settlements and prosecution in the International Criminal Court.



3 min read
Published 12 September 2016 at 12:00pm
By Gareth Boreham
Source: SBS