Israeli MK tells schoolboys he wishes to 'send Arabs to Switzerland'

Israeli MK tells schoolboys he wishes to 'send Arabs to Switzerland'
Matan Kahana, an Israeli parliamentarian and religious affairs minister, is facing backlash after saying he wishes he could put all Arabs on a train and send them to Switzerland
2 min read
14 June, 2022
Matan Kahana's remarks sparked backlash [Getty]

An Israeli Knesset member is facing backlash after saying he wished there was a button that would deport all Arabs to Switzerland.

Speaking to Israeli school boys, Matan Kahana, MK for the Yamina party and religious affairs minister, said there is little hope for peace with Palestinians and they deserve to be deported.

"If there was a button I could press that would take all the Arabs and put them on a train to Switzerland, I would. A button like that does not exist", he told the secondary school students in Erfat. 

”Therefore it seems we were meant to exist [together] on this land in some way", he added.

His remarks, which were aired by public broadcaster Kan, received backlash, especially from Palestinians of 1948 territories who continue to face the consequences of the Nakba, a mass exodus of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes to create the state of Israel.

"Matan Kahana, we are here because this is our homeland. You, and others who think like you, can continue to wallow in your frustrations because we will not disappear!" United Arab List parliamentarian Waleed Taha tweeted shortly after the video made rounds online.

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Following the backlash, Kahana took to Twitter to claim his remarks were poorly worded.

"Conversing with students yesterday, I referenced that both Jewish and Arab populations aren't going anywhere," he wrote. 

"As such, we must work to live in coexistence. Our coalition is a courageous step towards this goal. Within this larger discussion, a few of my statements were worded poorly."

1948 Palestinians make up 20 percent of the Israeli population and face systematic discrimination. Amnesty International has described Israel's treatment of Palestinians both within its 1948 boundaries and in the West Bank and Gaza as "apartheid".

Large segments of the Israeli public see Palestinian citizens as a demographic threat to the Jewish majority, with discrimination entrenched across housing, public services, education and employment.