Eitam: Banish traitors from Knesset and Israel

NU/NRP MK tells plenum Arab MKs, demonstrators against Israel should be sent to Gaza "where [they] belong."

Eitam 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Eitam 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Arabs who support terror against Israel ought to be banished from the Knesset and from the country, MK Effi Eitam (National Union-National Religious Party) said Wednesday, during a fiery plenum debate between the Arab and right-wing factions. "Treacherous MKs who take refuge in the shadow of Israeli democracy tell the 'martyrs' in Gaza that [they] will continue their war. I think that no sane democracy can ignore this severe incitement, this treason in time of war," Eitam said. "I am telling you that the day will come when we expel you from this house [the Knesset] and when we expel you from this national home." "We have to drive you out, as well as everyone else who took part in yesterday's unruly, reckless and treacherous anti-Israel diatribe," Eitam said. Eitam's word were directed at the nine Arab MKs from the Balad, United Arab List-Ta'al and Hadash parties who took part in demonstrations on Tuesday against Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip. More than 5,000 people attended the largest rally, in Umm al-Fahm, waving Palestinian flags and decrying the IDF operation that left more than 120 Gazans and two IDF soldiers dead. They chanted slogans such as "With spirit and blood we will liberate you, o Palestine," "Israel is the mother of terror," "Israel is a terrorist state" and "Stop the Zion-Nazi." Several participants wore masks and many carried Palestinian and Syrian flags. Arab MKs there blasted Israel for the Gaza operation. Hadash chairman Muhammad Barakei said "the demonstration is in protest of an operation that has presumably ended and in protest of the catastrophic plans of the prime minister and the defense minister. "The Arab public will not remain silent. This is just one in a string of demonstrations that have been held across the country since Friday. We are sensing that there is unrest within the Arab-Palestinian community in Israel," Barakei said. On Wednesday, Arab MKs were furious at Eitam's remarks, interrupting his speech to call him a fascist. "You're crazy. You're a fascist. You're racist, and you don't represent Judaism," said Balad chairman MK Jamal Zahalka, who was removed from the plenum when he refused to allow Eitam to continue his speech. Zahalka spoke at Tuesday's rally, and was photographed alongside signs reading, Israel is "a Zion-Nazi state" and urging "Gaza martyrs" to carry on with their struggle. Following Zahalka's removal, MK Taleb a-Sanaa (United Arab List-Ta'al) took up the fight with Eitam, yelling that the reserve brigadier-general should be court-martialed for his conduct during the first intifada. "He advocates the expulsion of Israeli citizens," Sanaa said. "Eitam belong in history's garbage can." MK David Rotem (Israel Beiteinu), who was chairing the plenum session, told Sanaa to remain quiet and to "know his place." Animosity has grown between the Knesset's right-wing parties and Arab factions, as a string of legislation has aimed to challenge the Arab MKs views on their dual Arab-Israeli nationality. Arab MKs said that they felt pushed to align themselves more closely with the Palestinian cause, increasing their meetings with the Palestinian Authority leadership in the West Bank, and voicing support for the Hamas leadership in Gaza. "We feel pushed away and isolated by the Knesset. This has been the most hostile Knesset in Israel's history," said MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List). Some center and left-wing MKs also expressed frustration with the Arab legislators during Wednesday's plenum session. Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilna'i (Labor) and MK Otniel Schneller (Kadima) both sided with the Likud's calls for Zahalka's and Tibi's removal from the plenum. Later in the day, MK Yisrael Katz (Likud) handed Prime Minister Ehud Olmert a petition signed by 73 coalition and opposition MKs that called for the government to cease any negotiations regarding the right of return for Palestinian refugees and their descendents. The petition came amid increasing speculation over the US-brokered peace talks, which resumed on Wednesday following prompting by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.