The Knesset's plenum.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Labor activists called this week to remove MK Zouheir Bahloul from the party, for his support for a bill seeking to dismantle Israel’s National Institutions.
The World Zionist Organization, Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund and Keren Hayesod are collectively known as the National Institutions.
They were founded by the Zionist movement to establish a Jewish state, and after 1948, worked to advance Israel and its ties to the Diaspora.
On Wednesday, the Knesset voted down a bill sponsored by Joint List MK Jamal Zahalka to dismantle the National Institutions.
Zahalka argued that they are used to discriminate against Arab citizens, saying that the JNF-KKL does not allow land it owns to be sold or leased to Arabs.
“The special status given to these institutions is based on an ideology of discrimination and racial separation between citizens,” Zahalka said.
Only Arab lawmakers voted in favor of the bill, and Bahloul and Esawi Frej of Meretz were the only MKs outside of the Joint List to support it.
Following the vote, Labor representatives in the National Institutions called to throw Bahloul out of the party.
KKL-JNF chairman Danny Attar, a former Labor MK, said “the Knesset made the correct Zionist decision when it decided to reject the bill to cancel the National Institutions.
“At this time, when residents of the South are absorbing nonstop attacks from Hamas, and KKL workers are fighting the [incendiary] kite terrorism” – which has burned agricultural land in the “Gaza envelope” – “it is shocking to find out that there are people sitting in the Knesset who will do anything to stop KKL’s Zionist action,” he said.
Attar called on Labor chairman Avi Gabbay to remove Bahloul from the party, saying it does not have a place for someone who tries to undermine the National Institutions.
Debbie Ben-Ami, a member of the WZO’s Executive from the Labor Party, wrote on Twitter: “I’m embarrassed that this man represents me... I call on party chairman Avi Gabbay and opposition leader Isaac Herzog and MKs to do whatever they can do to remove him from the party.
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