Israeli defence minister has called for a boycott of Arab citizens and Arab-run business in the tense Wadi Ara region over simmering protests in the area. Avigdor Lieberman said those Israeli Arab residents in the northern district "do not belong to the State of Israel" insisting that they should be boycotted.
In many parts of Israel, there have been widespread protests in the past few days ever since US President Donald Trump announced that Washington formally recognises Jerusalem, a place considered holy by both Israelis and Palestinians, as the Israeli capital. Multiple Palestinian factions, both militant and political, have called for "days of rage" protests against the decision with continuing demonstrations.
Wadi Ara was among the areas which have been witnessing a sharp surge in rallies with some turning violent. Late on Saturday (9 December) and early on Sunday (10 December), riots broke out in the region with hundreds of pro-Palestine protesters demanding the US to roll back its decision.
Commenting on the increasing demonstrations, Lieberman told Army Radio that those protesting in the region are no longer wanted by Israel and they should be boycotted.
"They should understand that they are not wanted here, they are not part of us," Lieberman said before adding that the residents of Wadi Ara "have no connection to this country".
Riot police have been called in to control the situation in Wadi Ara after some protesters hurled stones and smashed windows of a bus. At least three passengers were reported injured in the incident, following which police have detained two suspects.
Wadi Ara, often suspected to be a haven for anti-Israel activities, is a 12.5-mile long valley in the northern part of the country.
"What is happening in Wadi Ara is intolerable. So I am calling for a boycott of Wadi Ara. Don't go there and don't buy there. They need to understand that it is impossible to demonstrate with Hezbollah flags, Palestinian flags and pictures of [Hezbollah leader Hassan] Nasrallah. To accept billions from the National Insurance [Institute] and to also destroy us from within," said Lieberman.
However, Lieberman's comments were opposed by other lawmakers arguing that such a full-fledged boycott would amount to Israel abandoning its own territory. "I don't join Liberman in his calls. I am no less right-wing than he is, [but] if the principle is to give up every place where there is an Arab majority then we will need to give up Jaffa," said Israel's Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan with few others echoing similar views.