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1950’s Plans to Expel the Residents of Qara Village to Jordan

By Mahsom Editorial Staff

Translated by Daphna Levit

Hebrew original in Mahsom

“Regarding: Expelling the residents of Qara Village” – Z. Leif, Advisor to the Prime Minister’s Office on Land Issues

About one week ago, in the context of a public meeting organized by the Balad Party in Kufr Qara, and attended by MPs Azmi Bishara and Jamal Zahalka, Bishara revealed a document composed by the Advisor to the Prime Minister’s Office on Land Issues in 1950, which proposes to expel the residents of Qara.

It appears that Israel has not yet reconciled to the existence of more than a million Arab citizens within its borders and has not desisted from its efforts to evacuate them and to commit ethnic cleansing in order to preserve a “pure Jewish State”. Avigdor Leiberman’s racist appeal “to sever from Um-El-Fahm”, which he characterized as a “terrorist town”, was recently publicized. Prior to that Israel legislated the Citizenship Law, preventing Arabs from freely choosing their marriage partner; Sharon declared the purpose of this law was to preserve the Jewish identity of the State.

Kufr Qara in the Ara Wadi, was annexed to Israel after the Rhodes Agreement, as were all the villages of the triangle. After the war and following the cease fire agreement, Israel appropriated over 80% of the lands of the residents of Qara, since these were west of the cease fire agreement line and were declared abandoned lands. The residents of Qara had not abandoned the land; they remained in the village, at a distance of a few hundred meters from those lands.

Z. Leif, the advisor to the PMO on Land Issues, intentionally planned the takeover of the land remaining in the hands of the residents of the village, who numbered approximately 1,700 people. After the annexation of most of the land, the village residents retained possession of 12 thousand dunam. On the 3rd of July 1950, Leif wrote the Prime Minister, the Finance Minister and the Foreign Minister: “If we do not take advantage of this opportunity we will have to take responsibility for the employment of Arabs in public works and to make arrangements for them at a later date, which will cost the Treasury money and involve a degree of discomfort.” In his letter he relates that only 20% of the lands remained in the ownership of the village residents. “They do not have the means to support themselves from agriculture, which was their main source of income in normal times.” Thus, out of concern for the village residents, he was seeking a way to assist them and suggested evicting them to Jordan.

Furthermore, Leif wrote: “In any case, we must not deviate from the principle applied to the residents of this village and others similarly included within the borders of Israel according to the peace treaty with the Kingdom of Jordan, that they must not be permitted to cultivate their lands that are located beyond the stations held by the IDF, as this would create an adverse precedent and strengthen the opposite side. As is known, at the root of the peace treaty was the assumption of a certain status-quo until a final peace agreement, in which neither side would benefit at the expense of the other.” Leif reveals that for Israel to improve its situation it must expel the village residents and take over their lands.

Over ten years ago, Sharon came out with “the seven star plan”, a plan of essentially surrounding the Arab villages in the Ara Wadi with Jewish settlements, in order to prevent the development of the villages and prevent any possibility of territorial continuity among them. Leif applied the same logic to his plans. In that same letter, he wrote the Prime Minister: “the situation in the Triangle region is such that due to a shortage of national or state land, our settlement is still sparse there. We have not managed to take control of important security positions. It is not acceptable, therefore, that the little that has been done will be further limited or minimized because of the need to return the land to its original owners, as it is stipulated in the cease fire agreement with the Kingdom of Jordan that the village and it residents were annexed to Israel.

Leif, a merciful and considerate man, knew that the residents of the village had to subsist after the war and the takeover of most of their lands on subsidies from the UN and from the Funds for Refugees. With this consideration, he wrote: “in approximately two months the subsidies from the UN will cease and the entire burden of employment will fall upon us. As they have no lands to cultivate, we will have to refer the residents to other sources of income and take responsibilities of employment. But the very existence of an entire village on the border, with over 1,700 residents living in their former residences and largely without land or employment, is undesirable in any event. Therefore the question of transferring them is unavoidable.”

Leif thought the time was right for expelling the residents of the village: “their appears to be an opportunity to evict the villagers with their cooperation. There is a suggestion that a significant percentage of villagers leave Israel at their own initiative andmove to an area held by the Arab Legion.” Leif did not want to expel the residents gratuitously and therefore said:” the condition for this is that an arrangement be made to compensate the landholders for their property.”

It turns out that the discussion of “voluntary” transfer is not new. The thought had always been there. What is not clear is why the plan never actualized and how the evacuation of the residents of Qara and the other Triangle villages was avoided.

The plan was never realized but Israel did everything to choke the Arab villages in the Triangle and the Galilee and surround them by Jewish settlements. Only a few days ago, a conference was held in the Galilee, attended by the Prime Minister and other senior Government Officials, about the Judaization of the Galilee.

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