An Israeli settler blocks cameras during a protest by Palestinians in the old city of the West Bank city of Hebron, September 3, 2017.
(photo credit: MUSSA QAWASMA / REUTERS)
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein blocked Meretz and Joint List lawmakers from holding a conference calling for all Jews to leave Hebron.
The gathering, planned for Monday, was titled “Hebron First,” and called for the immediate evacuation of the Jewish area of Hebron as a precursor to evacuating more settlements.
Among the speakers were MKs Ayman Odeh and Dov Henin of the Joint List and Michal Rozin of Meretz, and also invited were Palestinian residents of Hebron, as well as representatives of far-Left organizations Breaking the Silence, B’Tselem, Yesh Din and Peace Now.
B’Tselem Director-General Hagai El-Ad was expected to speak in the Knesset for the first time since he accused Israel of war crimes at the UN Security Council.
The event was called a “meeting” and not a “conference,” because conferences have to be approved by the Knesset speaker.
However, Edelstein heard of the nature of the event and blocked it anyway, because the president of the Czech Republic is supposed to visit the Knesset at that time.
“Time after time, certain MKs try to act behind my back and that of the professional staff of the Knesset for cheap political gain. Lies are destined to be revealed,” Edelstein said.
The conference’s organizers insisted that it will still take place.
“The Knesset is not the property of the Knesset Speaker and the building is not Ze’ev’s Fortress,” meaning the Likud headquarters, the MKs said in a joint statement. “The Speaker does not have the authority to silences those he does not like. The public does not buy the excuse of the Czech president. This isn’t the first time he uses these excuses.”
On Wednesday, Odeh was at the center of a different scandal, after former defense minister Avigdor Liberman asked to have his seat in the Knesset moved away from the head of the Arab bloc.
Sofa Landver, an MK in his party, sat next to Odeh instead.
Asked about the move at the Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference, Liberman laughed and said “there are better neighbors” than Odeh.
Odeh himself was not happy about the prior seating arrangement, and took a selfie of himself and Liberman – without the latter’s cooperation – on Monday, and tweeted, “I am considering quitting the opposition,” in reference to Liberman pulling his party from the coalition last week.
MK Stav Shaffir (Zionist Union) accused Liberman of racism for wanting to move and called on Edelstein to condemn him.
“If we, the elected representatives of the State of Israel, the home of the Jewish People, heard about such behavior toward an Israeli elected official in another country, we would cry out against such clear antisemitism,” Shaffir wrote to Edelstein. “The fact that former defense minister Liberman, who underwent racism for being Jewish in the country of his birth [the Soviet Union], succeeded in forgetting this fact and acted in such an ugly way toward another person is very unfortunate and does not have a place in the Knesset.”
Liberman plays the key role in choosing Knesset members for his party, which does not hold parties, and Yisrael Beytenu has an Arab representative, Hamad Amer, who is Druze.
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