Israel's foreign minister Tzipi Livni raised many eyebrows when speaking to Israeli high school students this week. Her attempts to sound tough while advocating the two state solution backfired badly. Even her attempts to repair the damage continued to reveal the basic problem of racism that Zionists have when it comes to Palestinians whether under their occupation or Palestinian citizens of Israel.
"My solution for maintaining a Jewish and democratic state of Israel is to have two nation-states with certain concessions and with clear red lines," she added.
According to Livni, the national demands of the Israel's Arab citizens should end the moment a Palestinian state is established. This statement was interpreted by Palestinian citizens of Israel as an attempt to trigger their biggest nightmare- an attempt for an ethnic cleansing-type of transfer of those remaining Palestinians from their homes which are part of the Israeli state.
The statements drew quick and angry reaction from Arab leaders including a number of Knesset members. "We never immigrated to Israel,'" said Mohammad Baraka from the Hadash party. 'Israel came to us," We are the original citizens of this country." He called Livni's statement "the height of audacity." Israel's Arabs were not anyone's "guests," he told the BBC's Arabic Service.
Later the leader of the Kadima centrist party tried to back track. Livni told Israel Radio that she had not been hinting at "transferring" or "moving" Israel's Arab citizens to the future Palestinian state.
"The national solution for the Arab Israelis is in the Palestinian state when it is established," she told the radio, emphasizing she meant that "on the level of expression, not on the level of a physical move." Their "national expression is in another place," she said, adding that did not have "anything to do with a transfer or move."
But Livni attempts at political backpeddling probably made things worse. Trying to appear the democrat Livni said, "I will fight for equal rights for every citizen in the state of Israel." They would continue to live in Israel as equal citizens, she said, but as a minority in a state which was the home of the Jewish people.
The Israeli foreign minister didn't explain what she would do to keep 1.5 million Arab citizens eternally a minority. Palestinian citizens of Israel today make up 20 per cent of the country's 7.3 million. A further 4 million Palestinians live in the occupied Palestinian territories which are controlled directly (West Bank) or indirectly through siege as in the case of the Gaza strip.
The head of the right wing Likud party, Benjamin Netanyahu, has in recent weeks established a lead over Livni in opinion polls, and Israeli critics have said that she has begun to express markedly hard-line positions, including against the Gaza truce, in a bid to win over centre-right voters.
The idea of a "transfer," or of moving Israel's Arab citizens or the areas in which they live to a future Palestinian state or even to neighboring Arab states, is very much part of Israeli and Zionist thinking although it is considered radical and controversial in mainstream Israeli thinking.
The idea has been advocated in variations by extreme-right and hard-line politicians, including Avigdor Lieberman of the ultra- nationalist Israel Our Home party and assassinated Israeli tourism minister Rehavam Zeevi of the ultra-right Moledet party.