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Knesset members from across the political divide accused MK Wasal Taha of treason Sunday for his remark that the kidnapping of IDF Cpl. Gilad Shalit by Palestinian gunmen was "legitimate."
While the Israeli Arab Knesset member confirmed that he had made the remark to an Islamic on-line chat room, he stressed that he had not encouraged Palestinians to continue to abduct IDF soldiers, as several Israeli media sources claimed.
"My remarks were mistranslated and taken out of proportion. I am not the Hamas chief of staff, I am not ordering any kidnappings," said Taha, who belongs to the Balad Party. "The murder and massive attacks on Gaza have left Palestinians with two options: Either to harm innocent civilians or to confront the army, and they picked the more difficult choice of confronting the Israel Defense Forces, capturing [Cpl. Gilad] Shalit in the process."
Taha's remarks were met with an immediate backlash from his fellow MKs, many of whom called for his dismissal from the Knesset.
Taha may actually face such action if a new law proposed by MK Zevulun Orlev (National Union-National Religious Party) passes a second and third reading in the Knesset Wednesday. According to the bill, the Knesset House Committee - with the approval of the Supreme Court - could cancel the membership of any MK who "supported or identified with" a terror organization.
Last week the law passed its first vote by a slim majority, but a spokesman for Orlev said that the coalition parties were likely to vote in favor of the law and pass its next vote by a wide margin.
"The treacherous words of MK Taha prove that Trojan horses have infiltrated the Israeli Knesset, and democracy must defend itself from them," said Orlev. "Taha is proud of cooperating with the enemy."
Even if the law is not passed on Wednesday Taha may still face charges, as MK Effie Eitam (NU-NRP) called on Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz to open an investigation against Taha and former MK Abdulmalik Dehamshe (United Arab List), who made a similar statement. MK Gilad Erdan (Likud) said that he had spoken to Interior Minister Roni Bar-On about the possibility of revoking Taha's citizenship.
Israel Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman issued a general criticism of Arab MKs, calling them a "bunch of pathetic collaborators."
"Unfortunately, most Arab MKs effectively serve as the diplomatic wing of terror organizations in the Israeli Knesset," said Lieberman. "This is a badge of shame for the Knesset and the country's justice system."
MK Alex Miller, also of Israel Beiteinu, said Israel must "bring to strictest justice anyone who incites terror and attacks on IDF soldiers and who aids terror organizations."
"If Palestinian terror organizations are Taha's cronies," said Miller, "then he can relieve us of his presence and go live with them."
Meretz MK Ran Cohen described Taha's calls for a "military approach" as immoral and inflammatory. "Taha's identification with the Palestinian people cannot justify calls for violence and kidnapping soldiers," he said.