TEL AVIV – MK Dov Khenin’s claim on Sunday that Israel is “ethnically cleansing Palestinians” in the West Bank has sparked outrage among Israeli lawmakers.
Khenin, a Jewish MK in the Arab-dominated Joint List party, made his remarks in an interview with Sky News. He claimed that the demolition of illegal Arab construction in Area C was Israel’s “very sophisticated way” of conquering the land so settlers could move in.
Under the 1994 Oslo Accords, Area C is under full Israeli control. The Palestinian population in the West Bank is now at 2.5 million, increasing from 462,000 in 1949.
Responding to Khenin’s comments, MK Amir Ohana (Likud) stressed that both Israeli and Palestinian structures in the West Bank are razed if they are illegally built. Even then, approval from the High Court of Justice is needed.
“The person who wants a judenrein state – cleansed of Jews – is the Holocaust denier and terrorist [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] whom Khenin surely considers a ‘partner for peace,’ ” Ohana added. “The fact is that the one who condemned a declaration that Hezbollah – which really seeks ethnic cleansing, of Jews – is a terrorist organization, was none other than the Hadash party of which Khenin is a member. I’m here to remind him.”
MK Nava Boker (Likud) accused Khenin of incitement, and said his comments reflected “traditional communist anti-Semitism… said on the worker’s holiday [May 1] celebrating one of the greatest murderers [Josef Stalin] of the 20th century.”
“It seems like someone cleansed Dov Khenin’s brain. Otherwise it’s impossible to explain the delusions of his feverish head,” she added.
Jewish Home MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli said she “suggests that Dov Khenin get the full numbers from his friends in the Joint List about the European Union-sponsored Arab takeover of state-owned land in Area C.”
Moalem-Refaeli also urged Khenin to read the recent State Comptroller Report that says Israel does not sufficiently enforce building laws when they are broken by Arabs in Area C.
“Instead of criticizing the civil administration, his party should praise it,” she joked.
Meanwhile, opposition MK Nachman Shai (Zionist Union) said: “As someone who believes in a two-state solution, I oppose any step taken by Israel that could make a future solution more difficult. However, MK Dov Khenin’s statement is grave and outrageous. There is no ethnic cleansing, there was not and there will not be.”
“Any Israeli who is concerned about a Jewish and democratic Israel must fight to protect the basic values of the state, first and foremost the rule of law,” he added.