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Israeli Defense Minister Calls for Boycott of Arab Zone

The Israeli Defense Minister on Sunday called for an economic boycott against Arab citizens in the area where discontent broke out following Donald Trump’s declaration in Jerusalem, saying they “do not belong” to the country.

Avigdor Lieberman’s comments on Israeli Arabs, who represent about 17.5 percent of the country’s population, led to condemnations for their harshness.

“Those who demonstrate in Israel with flags of Hezbollah, Hamas and the PLO are not part of the state of Israel,” said Lieberman, referring to the Palestine Liberation Organization.

“They act to harm us and destroy us from within,” he said in a statement.

“Therefore, I call on Israeli citizens to impose an economic boycott on Wadi Ara: do not buy, do not eat in restaurants and do not buy them services.”

Speaking on army radio, Lieberman reiterated his position on the land swap in a peace deal that would allow the Arab regions of Israel to be delivered to the Palestinians.

“These people do not belong to Israel,” said the resident minister of Wadi Ara.

“As part of a final agreement, they must be part of Ramallah,” while Israel would annex settlement blocs in the occupied West Bank.

The Israelis must simply “give them the feeling that they are not wanted here,” he said, noting the cases where Arabs in the region attacked Israelis or supported militant activities.

Dozens of Israeli Arabs blocked the Wadi Ara intersection in northern Israel on Saturday night, police said, throwing stones at vehicles and burning tires to protest against Trump’s statement that Jerusalem is capital of Israel.

The windows of a bus were broken and his driver was slightly injured. Police arrested two miners and a man from Arara, an Arab town in the Wadi Ara region.

Ayman Odeh, head of the Arab Common List Alliance, mainly from Parliament, strongly condemned Lieberman’s comments.

“Calling for boycotting citizens solely because of their national and religious identity is reminiscent of the darkest regimes in the history of humanity,” he said in a statement.

“The notion that this person is in charge of state security should worry every citizen in his good sense.”

Clashes and demonstrations erupted in the Palestinian territories after Trump’s statement Wednesday, but there was little unrest in Israel.

Israeli Arabs are the descendants of Palestinians who remained on their land after the creation of Israel in 1948.