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(photo credit: Courtesy)
MKs across the political spectrum reacted strongly to the publication of allegations that Balad chairman MK Azmi Bishara aided Hizbullah during the Second Lebanon War last summer.
Balad second-in-command MK Jamal Zahalka declared that the allegations against Bishara were "blatant lies" and that "these suspicions are biased and distortions of the facts."
He added that this was a concentrated effort by the Shin Bet to politically destroy the Balad chairman.
Meretz MK Ran Cohen called on Bishara to come back to Israel and defend himself against the allegations.
MKs from right-wing Kadima, meanwhile, were quick to release statements calling for harsh action against Bishara.
MK Yoel Hasson declared he was going to set up a parliamentary committee of inquiry into the Bishara affair.
"Today, the true face of one of the traitors of Israel has been revealed," he said. "The Knesset needs to launch a serious investigation, and I am ready to erect a parliamentary inquiry committee. The honor of the Knesset is at stake."
Hasson also threw doubt on the entire Balad list and said the Knesset needs to reconsider electoral process that allowed the party into the Knesset.
Meanwhile, NU/NRP chairman Zevulun Orlev declared that "the allegations against Bishara prove that Trojan horses serving a fifth column have infiltrated the Israeli Knesset."
He added that "the authorities must capture Bishara anywhere he tries to take cover, and bring him to trial in Israel."
Likud MK Gilad Erdan said the case "proves that Bishara never had loyalty to the state of Israel," and called for Bishara to be treated like a fugitive.
He said he would continue advancing a law he had proposed, which would call for revoking the privileges of any MK who leaves office under shameful circumstances.
Israel Beitienu put out a statement, saying that "Azmi Bishara is a microcosm of the problem and not the problem itself. Bishara and the rest of his colleagues crossed the line a long time ago, but the state decided to bury its head in the sand."
Right-wing activist Moshe Feiglin called Bishara "an Arabic patriot" and said that "like any normal person, his loyalty is to his people and not to his enemy. Bishara is no different in his loyalty than any of his compatriots, except for the fact that what he did, he did in the public eye."
MK Nadia Hilu (Labor), however, urged the public to wait until the investigation against the Balad leader was finished.
"I appeal to all residents of Israel, Arabs and Jews - we are in a crucial period," she said. "We can easily forget today that most of the Arabs in Israel are loyal citizens. At a difficult time like this, it's important to tighten Arab-Israeli cooperation and not to be swayed by words of incitement against the Arab community in the state."