Zionist Union's Arab MK quits Knesset on live TV

Bahloul complained that the Knesset had become a rubber stamp for racist legislation. He warned that Israel was becoming "a state with symptoms of apartheid."

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July 28, 2018 21:27
2 minute read.
Labor Party Chair Avi Gabbay

Labor Party Chair Avi Gabbay. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

 
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The Zionist Union’s only Arab MK, Zouheir Bahloul, announced his resignation from the Knesset in dramatic fashion on Channel 2’s Meet The Press program Saturday evening, saying he was angered by the Jewish Nation-State Law.

Bahloul complained that the Knesset had become a rubber stamp for racist legislation. He warned that Israel was becoming “a state with symptoms of apartheid.”

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Knesset passes controversial Jewish nation-state bill into law, July 19, 2018 (Reuters)

“The drastic step of enacting the Nation-State Law removes the Arab population, by legislation, outside the path of equality in Israel,” Bahloul said.

“I will have to give answers to my grandson when he asks if I was in the Knesset when this law passed. Now, I will be able to tell him that I resigned to protest one of the worst laws ever.”

The Nation-State Law was not the only dispute Bahloul had with his Knesset colleagues. He almost quit the Knesset and the Zionist Union last October, after Zionist Union head Avi Gabbay termed “extremist” Bahloul’s decision to boycott the Knesset ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration.

Gabbay’s office said he was disappointed by Bahloul’s decision and that when the Zionist Union comes to power, it would immediately fix the law. Meretz leader Tamar Zandberg said he was welcome in her party.

But Bahloul said he would submit his resignation letter when the Knesset returns from its extended summer recess October 14 and then “keep away from the Knesset as if it is fire.”

Bahloul is not the only Zionist Union MK quitting the Knesset this week. Outgoing opposition leader Isaac Herzog will submit his letter of resignation to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein Sunday morning.

Herzog’s resignation will go into effect Tuesday, and Herzog will begin his new job as chairman of the Jewish Agency the next day. He will wrap up 15 years in the Knesset, in which he has served five terms.

Tzipi Livni will replace Herzog as opposition leader. Bahloul and Herzog will be replaced in the Knesset by the next two names on the Zionist Union list, former Kadima MK Robert Tiviaev and former Labor MK Moshe Mizrahi.

The departure of the two MKs brings one of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s fiercest critics, anti-corruption protest leader Eldad Yaniv, closer to entering the Knesset. He is next on the Zionist Union list after Mizrahi.

Livni’s appointment will need to be approved by the MKs in the opposition the next time the Knesset convenes. Signatures have been drafted to force a special session of the Knesset during its summer recess on the Jewish Nation-State Law and the Surrogacy Law. Livni is expected to deliver her maiden address as opposition leader at that session.

Tiviaev will be sworn in at the Knesset session. He has said that if elections would be held now, he would not vote for the Zionist Union.

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