IDF soldier shoots subdued Palestinian.
(photo credit: screenshot)
The Zionist Union said its MK Zouheir Bahloul’s refusal to characterize a Palestinian who stabbed a soldier in Hebron as a terrorist on Thursday does not reflect the party’s values, as politicians in the coalition and opposition condemned the statement.
Bahloul, the sole Arab lawmaker in the Zionist Union, refused to use the word “terrorist” to describe the stabber earlier this week, and did not change his mind when he was asked about it on Army Radio on Thursday morning.
The attacker in question was the Palestinian man who stabbed a soldier on March 24, was subdued, and then shot in the head and killed by another soldier. The latter soldier has been the subject of much controversy since the incident, and is currently being detained at his base. The IDF prosecutor is expected to charge him with manslaughter.
When asked on Army Radio how he defines a terrorist, Bahloul said: “I agree that someone who cuts short the life of an entire family is a terrorist. They are terrorists and murderers who deserve all the punishments. Anyone who murdered someone, cut short the life of an innocent person or ambushes a family coming home from work is a terrorist.”
Bahloul clarified that his definition of a terrorist includes people who killed settlers, but not those who attack soldiers.
The Zionist Union MK said the way Israelis define a terrorist is a problem: “Everyone who fights for his freedom and independence is a terrorist in Israelis’ eyes. In the eyes of the people, every Palestinian who fights to remove the injustices of the occupation is considered a terrorist... That word becomes too inclusive and turns every Palestinian into a terrorist.
“I agree that the stabber is a murderer, but he is not a terrorist,” he said.
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog, the chairman of the Zionist Union, said he told Bahloul he “rejects and condemns” the MK’s statements.
“The Zionist Union’s position is that a terrorist is a terrorist is a terrorist, and it does not matter if he wanted to kill Jews or Arabs,” Herzog wrote on Facebook.
Several other Zionist Union lawmakers also criticized Bahloul, with MK Nachman Shai calling his statement “miserable,” and saying that independence for Palestinians can only come through negotiations.
MK Revital Swid demanded that Bahloul take back what he said.
“Bahloul’s words are difficult and unacceptable. Whoever murders children in their sleep or soldiers at bus stops is and will always be an enemy, murderer and terrorist,” she said. “He is legitimizing attacking soldiers.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote on Facebook that Bahloul’s statement was “shameful.”
“IDF soldiers protect us with their bodies from bloodthirsty murderers,” Netanyahu said. “I expect every citizen of Israel, and especially MKs, to give them full support.”
Science and Technology Minister Ophir Akunis (Likud) said Bahloul’s statements are a sign of the deterioration of the Labor Party, the larger of the two parties making up the Zionist Union, and “a tragedy that befell an important party whose founders fought to found the State of Israel.”
Bayit Yehudi said Labor “is slowly turning from post-Zionist to pro-Palestinian,” and that former prime minister and Labor leader Yitzhak Rabin is “turning over in his grave.”
“Herzog must reject such statements quickly, otherwise he’ll be left with a union, without the Zionist,” Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben Dahan (Bayit Yehudi) said.
Herzog responded to Bayit Yehudi’s statement that its leadership “leads a campaign of racism” and should “stop preaching morals to us and trying to silence us.”
Yisrael Beytenu faction chairman Robert Ilatov also came out against Bahloul, saying “it appears that encouraging terrorism and justifying it is a routine for Arab MKs, and it is unfortunate that Zouheir Bahloul chose to join the incitement.
“The time has come to put an end to the violent and dangerous incitement these MKs lead,” Ilatov said.