MK Bassel Ghattas.
(photo credit: KNESSET CHANNEL)
MK Basel Ghattas implied terrorists who killed Israelis were victims of “the occupation,” and not committing a crime in comments posted by Palestinian Media Watch on Thursday.
In an interview with PAnet, a major Israeli Arabic news site, Ghattas (Balad/Joint List) discussed his meeting, along with two other MKs, with the families of 10 terrorists last week.
“The day Arab MKs abstain from visiting martyrs’ families who have lost their precious sons in the turmoil of the struggle against the oppressive occupation – they did not go to kill or attempt to kill for criminal reasons or illegally – the day we abstain from visiting the martyrs’ families, we will have to vacate our chairs and leave the keys and go home,” he said.
Balad’s three MKs met with relatives of terrorists whose bodies are being held by the Israeli Police because the families refuse to hold modest funerals to avoid incitement to violence.
The MKs stood in a moment of silence in memory of Palestinian shaheeds (martyrs in Arabic), and referred on its Facebook page to a particular terrorist, who killed three Israelis, as a shaheed.
Ghattas called the PMW – an Israeli NGO that documents cases of incitement in Palestinian media – report a “foolish attempt to recycle the incident. Our demand stands: Release the bodies.”
On Tuesday, the Knesset Ethics Committee punished Ghattas and MK Haneen Zoabi (Joint List) with a fourmonth suspension from all Knesset activities except voting.
MK Jamal Zahalka (Joint List) received a two-month suspension, because he had fewer prior ethics violations.
In addition, Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit instructed police to look into the Balad MKs’ meeting with the families.
Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman said the way to deal with Ghattas is a bill proposed by MK Oded Forer (Yisrael Beytenu), which passed a preliminary reading on Wednesday, stating that a list or individual may be banned from running for a seat in the Knesset based on statements that incite to terrorism.
“That is the solution that will put an end to the intolerable phenomenon of these expressions by the fifth column sitting in the Knesset,” Liberman said. “I hope the prime minister will wake up, stop dealing in petty politics and won’t once again vote down the bill I proposed that states that the High Court cannot overturn a Central Elections Committee decision [as it has done every time Balad was banned] and thus we will be able to bar the Balad party of terrorists from participating in the election and sabotaging Israeli democracy.”
Referring to Ghattas’s comment that he would have to leave his keys and go home, MK Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin (Zionist Union) tweeted: “So leave them already... they should be in the hands of someone more responsible.”
MK Itzik Shmuli (Zionist Union) said Ghattas is “continuing the provocative line of Balad members.”
“This time, the truth has been revealed, and it is that Ghattas is not really interested in the concerns of the Israeli Arabs who elected him.
Maybe, instead of boarding another flotilla to Gaza, he can take a taxi and check the situation in [the Israeli-Arab town of] Taiba,” Shmuli suggested.
Ghattas participated in a protest flotilla to Gaza in 2015.