Arab MKs boycott Knesset Iftar meal

MKs boycott Ramadan feast in protest of the Prawer Bill regulating Beduin settlements in the Negev.

July 21, 2013 11:51
1 minute read.
Ibrahim Sarsour

ibrahim sarsour 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)


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Arab MKs plan to boycott the Knesset Speaker’s annual Ramadan feast, in protest of the Prawer Bill regulating Beduin settlements in the Negev.

Knesset 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.

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“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 said.

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 plenum.

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 implemented.

Following the Arab MKs’ actions, Edelstein submitted complaints to the Knesset Ethics Committee and suspended Tibi from serving as deputy speaker.

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