Talking of ethnic cleansing and 1948, Israeli historian-journalist Tom Segev has a fascinating farewell column in Haaretz, in which he examines the minutes of a cabinet meeting in September 1948, at the end of the war’s second truce .
PM David Ben-Gurion is trying to persuade the other ministers to start a provocation – namely, attacking areas of the West Bank south of Ramallah – to restart the war.
Ben-Gurion’s goal, as he makes clear at the meeting, is to use the war’s revival to ethnically cleanse the central Galilee of 100,000 Palestinians, including many refugees who had fled from areas further south. There’s really no ambiguity in how he lays this out to his government:
If war broke out, we would then be able to clear the entire central Galilee with one fell swoop. But we cannot empty the central Galilee – that is, including the [Palestinian] refugees – without a war going on. The Galilee is full of [Palestinian] residents; it is not an empty region. If war breaks out throughout the entire country, this would be advantageous for us as far as the Galilee is concerned because, without having to make any major effort – we could use just enough of the force required for the purpose without weakening our military efforts in other parts of the country – we could empty the Galilee completely.