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Wednesday, 30 October, 2002, 16:19 GMT
Israeli party helps Palestinians to emigrate
Palestinians walk past military vehicles in Ramallah
Many Palestinians are seeking a quiet and secure life

Ahmani is a mother of six, living in Ramallah. Her husband is in an Israeli jail and the family finds it hard to make a living.

A few weeks ago she answered an advertisement placed in a Palestinian newspaper. It offered free help and advice to anyone wanting to emigrate from the West Bank and Gaza.

It was placed neither by Palestinians nor by foreign companies, but rather by a far right Israeli political party called Moledet or Homeland - a party that believes in removing Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza by choice or by force.


When you cross the Jordan to the land of Canaan you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land before you

Numbers Chapter 33 Verses 51-52

Ahmani is aware of who is helping her out but that does not bother her.

"I don't feel uncomfortable because they will give us a good life," she says. "This is what I am looking for as a mother. I am looking for peace, and work, good education for my kids and also for food."

For many years, what Israelis call "transfer" was little more than a fringe belief promoted by Moledet and its leader Rehavam Zeevi.

But a year ago Zeevi was killed by Palestinian gunmen and since then his ideas have begun to win more followers in Israel.

Murdered Moledet leader Revaham Zeevi
Zeevi's ideas were not as popular when he was alive
Schoolchildren have been given classes about his life and his face has been put on a stamp.

I went to Jerusalem's main post office to ask people whether they supported his belief of removing the Palestinians.

"Yes, I do," says one man. "I believe as a long term solution there really can't be peace."

"I think he was a great man," says another woman. "He wanted to solve our problems with the Arabs because we can't live with them. Both of us can't live here."

Old Testament

Zeevi's successor as leader of Moledet is Benny Elon. He has come up with his own peace plan based on the idea of transfer or mass expulsion.

Included is a quotation from the Old Testament book of Numbers (ch. 33 v. 51-52) - God's words to the Israelites: "When you cross the Jordan to the land of Canaan you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land before you."


To assume that it won't happen again - when the rest of the world let it happen once and has never done anything about it - is being extraordinarily na´ve

Michael Tarazi
PLO legal adviser
Advice Benny Elon believes is well worth following.

"The transfer idea was one of the basic options from the beginning of Zionism. But we didn't write enough to do it in a way that would be good for both sides."

And if it does not happen peacefully, some believe that it may happen by force.

Michael Tarazi, a legal adviser to the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, says it has already happened once before.

"Ethnic cleansing isn't something that's so alien unfortunately - it's already happened to us once and this is what most of the world forgets - in 1948, 75% of the Christian and Muslim population were ethnically cleansed, or forcibly transferred or fled during the war.

"So to assume that it won't happen again - when the rest of the world let it happen once and has never done anything about it - is being extraordinarily naive."

The Palestinians say efforts to evict them from their homeland are already underway.

Terrified children

In recent weeks a number of families from the West Bank village of Yanun have had to leave their homes because of harassment from nearby settlers.

"The children are terrified," says one villager. "I'm ready to do anything to protect them. I'm willing to lose my home and my lands to keep them safe."

Two years of violence have changed life here. So many mainstream options have failed that people on both sides have started to turn to more extreme alternatives.

At one time, for many, transfer or mass deportation was so unthinkable it was almost a joke. But no-one is laughing about it any more.


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21 Oct 02 | Middle East
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