Tempest in a teapot: Man arrested for pouring hot tea on MK Tibi

UAL-Ta'al MK lightly injured at protest against Beduin resettlement bill; Shamir considering taking over responsibility for Prawer plan.

Ahmed Tibi pouring water on Prawer Bill 370 (photo credit: Courtesy of Knesset Channel)
Ahmed Tibi pouring water on Prawer Bill 370
(photo credit: Courtesy of Knesset Channel)
A man was arrested for pouring hot tea on United Arab List-Ta’al MK Ahmed Tibi’s head at a rally against the Prawer-Begin bill Thursday.
Tibi was lightly injured.
“There is no doubt that incitement against Arab MKs has results,” Tibi said following the incident. “The attack on me is a result of increasing racism and incitement against Arab MKs specifically on the Prawer issue.”
Negev police said the man, a 48-year-old Jewish Israeli, threw a hot beverage, most likely tea, at MK Ahmed Tibi at the protest and was arrested and taken for investigation by Beersheba police.
They said the man is not known to the police and is not a known activist. They say that they believe that the act was not planned and that the man happened to be passing the protest. He became irritated and took out his anger on Tibi.
Tibi vowed that he will continue speaking up against the Prawer-Begin bill, which is meant to regulate Beduin settlement in the Negev.
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein called Tibi, expressing concern that “controversial processes that reach the Knesset trickle down into the streets and turn violent.”
“The right to protest belongs to every population group and every person with an opinion, but no one may cross the line and take the law into his own hands,” Edelstein added.
“The attack on MK Tibi should be a warning to all about the way elected officials are treated in Israel,” opposition leader Isaac Herzog said.
“The Israeli discourse is becoming more and more violent and in the end another crazy person will cross the line and commit a crime.”
“Today it’s boiling tea, tomorrow it will be a knife or a gun,” Herzog warned.
On Wednesday, Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir said in the Knesset that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu asked him to take over responsibility for the plan. The Yisrael Beytenu minister said he is considering it, but has not made a decision.
The Prawer-Begin bill is a five-year economic development initiative seeking to regulate Beduin settlement in the South, by aiming for a compromise solution for tens of thousands of Beduin scattered in unrecognized villages throughout the Negev and legalizing 63 percent of claimed land.
Beduin supporters oppose the bill because they say the legislation would result in up to 40,000 Beduin losing their land. They recently held a protest against the plan that turned violent.
Opponents on the Right criticize the bill as too generous, saying the state would be giving away land for free that Beduin could not prove to be theirs in court.
Last week, former minister Benny Begin said he is suspending the plan, after being accused of giving inconsistent reports on the Beduin response to it.
The Knesset Interior Committee plans to continue holding hearings on the Prawer Plan and Coalition chairman Yariv Levin (Likud Beytenu) said the bill that was under consideration requires changes and a detailed map needs to be included in any plan, delineating exactly what land the Beduin and Jews would receive.
Ariel Ben Solomon contributed to this report.