Ra'am MK meets with sheikh convicted of inciting terrorism

Right-wing politicians expressed outrage after a Ra'am MK met with a sheikh recently released from prison.

Leader of the northern Islamic Movement Sheikh Raed Salah gestures after leaving the district court in Jerusalem October 27, 2015. (photo credit: AMMAR AWAD/REUTERS)
Leader of the northern Islamic Movement Sheikh Raed Salah gestures after leaving the district court in Jerusalem October 27, 2015.
(photo credit: AMMAR AWAD/REUTERS)

Ra'am MK Mazen Ghnaim met on Monday with Shiekh Raed Salah, who recently completed a prison term for inciting terrorism, sparking outrage from right-wing politicians.

Salah is the leader of the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement which has been outlawed by the Israeli government since 2015. He was convicted of inciting terrorism in 2019 after praising, expressing sympathy with and encouraging terrorism on multiple occasions, including in connection to a shooting attack in which two Border Police officers were killed near the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

Salah had claimed that the charges against him were "far from the truth." In an interview with Middle East Eye shortly before he began his prison sentence, Salah claimed that the court had "criminalized" a "set of values," including verses from the Koran and "Palestinian folklore," and had inaccurately interpreted statements made in Arabic.

Hamas welcomed Salah's release last week, calling him "a symbol of struggle and sacrifice in our Palestinian people."

Ghnaim previously served as mayor of Sakhnin and as chairman of the Bnei Sakhnin football club.

 MK Mazen Ghnaim speaks during an internal security committee meeting on the violence in the soccer fields, at the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament in Jerusalem on October 27, 2021.  (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90) MK Mazen Ghnaim speaks during an internal security committee meeting on the violence in the soccer fields, at the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament in Jerusalem on October 27, 2021. (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

"[Prime Minister Naftali] Bennett and [Interior Minister Ayelet] Shaked's coalition member, MK Mazen Ghnaim of Ra'am, met today with Raed Salah, who incited the murder of Israelis," tweeted opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu in response to the meeting. "A government dependent on the Muslim Brotherhood is incapable of fighting terrorism and maintaining the security of Israeli citizens."

Otmza Yehudit head Itamar Ben Gvir also responded to the meeting on Monday, tweeting: "The pilgrimage to the terrorist Raed Saleh continues and this time [it is] MK Mazen Ghnaim. When I say supporters of terrorism, I know what I am talking about."

In July, Ghnaim told Radio MAKAN that his party would leave the coalition if Israel attacked Gaza, Lebanon or the holy sites of Christians and Muslims.