Arab MKs plan to boycott the Knesset Speaker’s annual Ramadan feast, in protest
of the Prawer Bill regulating Beduin settlements in the Negev.
Speaker Yuli Edelstein said Sunday that he is canceling the Knesset’s
traditional Iftar, or Ramadan breakfast dinner, which was scheduled for Monday,
after Arab MKs rejected his invitation.
“To accept this invitation, in
light of the insistence of Israel and all of its institutions and authorities to
continue separating races... and occupy the land of the Arab masses and ignore
its most basic religious and national responsibilities toward the Arab community
will never be accepted by UAL-Ta’al,” party leader Ibrahim Sarsour
Some of the reasons Sarsour gave for his party’s boycott include
the Prawer Bill, which seeks to regulate Arab settlement in the Negev by
legalizing ownership to 63 percent of land claimed by Beduin, police aggression
toward Arabs protesting Prawer including arrests and excessive force, and the
suspension of MK Ahmed Tibi (UAL-Ta’al) from his role as deputy Knesset speaker,
because he tore up and poured water on a copy of the Prawer Bill in the
Sarsour also cited house demolitions in Wadi Ara during Ramadan,
“the growing trend of racist legislation in the Knesset,” and a lack of
consideration for the Arab minority in the 2013-2014 budget as additional
reasons for boycotting the holiday meal.
Arab MKs from Balad and Hadash
also planned to boycott the Iftar meal.
Last month, ahead of the
Knesset’s first vote on the Prawer Bill, one Arab MK after another – Jamal
Zahalka (Balad), Afo Agbaria (Hadash), Haneen Zoabi (Balad), Masud Gnaim
(UAL-Ta’al), Muhammad Barakei (Hadash) and others – demonstratively ripped
copies of the bill.
Agbaria called for a third intifada if the bill is
Following the Arab MKs’ actions, Edelstein submitted
complaints to the Knesset Ethics Committee and suspended Tibi from serving as