August 1, 2000.
During the [recent] Camp David summit and even during the preparations that
made for it, the subject of territorial exchange between Israel and the
Palestinian state was raised for the umpteenth time. According to the
proposal, some of the Jewish settlements in the territories would remain
under Israeli sovereignty, in return for the transfer of Israeli Arab
communities in the Northern Triangle region, including the city of Um
Al-Fahm, to Palestinian control.
The advocates of this proposal have never
bothered to consult with the individuals who would be immediately involved
in such an exchange – namely, the [Arab] residents of those communities, who
are Israeli citizens.
Those advocates should realize that the [Arab] residents themselves are
totally opposed to the idea. During the present round of Palestinian-Israeli talks,
the head of the ‘Abna Al-Balad’ (‘Sons of the Village’) group, Raja Aghbariya, who
lives in Um al Fahm, declared, in an interview published in the Nazareth weekly
Kul Al-Arab, that he is ‘prepared to give up the National Insurance allowance
[he gets as an Israeli citizen] and Israeli democracy to be united with the land
and people of Palestine.’
A few days later, the results of a survey conducted by Kul Al-Arab
indicated a completely different view among the city’s residents.
In the survey conducted among 1,000 residents [of Um Al-Fahm], both male
and female, from all of the town’s clans and large families as well as all
segments of the local political spectrum, 83 percent of respondents opposed
the idea of transferring their city to Palestinian jurisdiction, while 11
percent supported the proposal and 6 percent did not express their position.
Of those opposed to the idea, 54 percent explained that they were against
becoming part of a Palestinian state because they wanted to continue living
under a democratic regime and enjoying a good standard of living, which
includes National Insurance allowances and pensions. Of these opponents, 18
percent stated that they were satisfied with their present situation, that
they were born in Israel and that they were not interested in moving to any
other state. Another 14 percent of this same group went so far as to say
that they were not prepared to make sacrifices for the sake of the creation
of a Palestinian state and to be its “sacrificial offering of atonement.”
Another 11 percent cited no reason for their opposition to the annexation of
their city by the Palestinian state.
In addition to the fact that their parents and grandparents in 1948 decided
to remain on their lands, Um Al-Fahm residents themselves have, over the
past few years, gained first-hand knowledge of the regime of terror,
oppression and corruption that exists in the Palestinian Authority under
Chairman Yasser Arafat. The residents of Um Al-Fahm have expressed not only
their own views and feelings but also the views and feelings of Israel’s
Arab community in general as well as of many Palestinians who today live in
the PA and who, irrespective of their political aspirations for the end of
the Israeli occupation, are opposed to the way Arafat and his followers are