(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
One week after a meeting between Arab MKs and Hamas parliamentary officials in east Jerusalem caused an uproar and drew widespread condemnation among MKs across the political spectrum, Balad MK Azmi Bishara met with Foreign Minister of the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud a-Zahar, in the Qatari capital of Doha Tuesday night.
The two reportedly discussed how best to go about "ending the economic siege placed on the PA by Israel and the US," according to a PA press release.
Last Wednesday when three MKs from the United Arab List visited the Hamas MPs, both to show solidarity and to "promote peace," said MK Taleb a-Sanaa, one of the visitors. On Monday, a-Sanaa became the second Arab to be appointed to the prestigious Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee when he was named a temporary member.
That appointment is now in question. MK Haim Ramon (Kadima), who is expected to play a central role in choosing the committee's permanent members, said it was doubtful that a-Sanaa, or any other Arab MK, would be placed there.
MKs from the right called for a-Sanaa's removal.
NRP-NU party MK Effi Eitam demanded of Ramon that a-Sanaa be kicked off the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee immediately.
"An MK who identifies with and supports Israel's worst enemies cannot serve on a committee that is charged with ensuring Israel's security," said Eitam. "I'm deeply concerned that a-Sanaa will divulge the sensitive information he has been privy to and endanger Israel's security."
"Arab MKs proved once again that their loyalties lie with the Palestinian Authority and its leadership, and not with Israel and its laws," said MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima).
However, former foreign minister Shlomo Ben-Ami criticized calls to punish Arab MKs for meeting with Hamas members of the Palestinian National Council, stating that as long as an Israeli MKs did not conspire with the Hamas representatives to harm Israel, the law does not prohibit such meetings.
Ben-Ami, said that talking with Hamas government leaders was important. "I think ways should be made to reach out to Hamas," he said.
"I don't believe the government's plan to withdraw from some lands in the West Bank is going to work if it is not coordinated with Hamas. We don't need to be negative, we need to co-opt Hamas into some sort of political framework. You saw [British Foreign Secretary} Jack Straw said today he does not expect Hamas to recognize Israel, but to be brought into the process."
with orly halpern, sheera claire frenkel and dan izenberg