The late tourism minister Rehavam Ze'evi, who headed the far right Moledet party, is to have his legacy memorialized through the work of a public council, under a law approved by the Knesset on Monday.
Ze'evi was assassinated in 2001 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel by Palestinian terrorists.
The law was approved in a 43-15 vote. Initiated by Moledet member MK Aryeh Eldad and co-signed by more than 40 MKs, the legislation sparked a furor in the Knesset over the idea that the state would finance a center to spread Ze'evi's idea of transferring Arabs out of Israel. Ze'evi campaigned in elections under the letter 'tet' for transfer.
Under the law, a memorial day commemorating the anniversary of Ze'evi's assassination will be inaugurated, and a research institute, museum, library and memorial site will be established by a public council. Educational programs, professional training, and scholarships will be instituted for studying matters connected to Ze'evi's legacy.
During discussions in the Knesset Education Committee, the initiators guaranteed that the proposed center would not deal with ideology of transfer. The law stipulates that Ze'evi's legacy will be studied through historical research of the Land of Israel and the people of Israel. As a modification to the original proposal, annual educational programs in his memory will only be held at IDF bases, and not in schools.
But MK Yossi Sarid (Yahad) said the State of Israel would be the first country in the civilized world to memorialize a person whose ideology is considered an international crime. 'For this, people are put on trial in international forums,' he said. 'The law books of the state will blush from disgrace.'
Sarid also asked the law sponsors whether they thought Ze'evi would have agreed to have been memorialized without the idea of transfer.
MK Yuli Tamir (Labor) said that if Spain had made a celebration day of the expulsion of Jews, the Knesset would have condemned it.
MK Ahmed Tibi (Hadash) said Ze'evi's legacy consisted of 'transfer' and nothing else.
Opposing the law were Arab party MKs Azmi Bishara, Tibi, Muhammad Barakei and Abdel Malik Dehamshe; Labor MKs Ghaleb Majadle, Avraham Shochat, Eitan Cabel and Tamir; Yahad MKs Haim Oron, Zehava Gal-On, Sarid, and Ran Cohen; and Shinui MKs Roni Brizon, Ilan Leibovitch, and Reshef Cheyne.