Right outraged as Arab MKs skip Rivlin inauguration

Likud lawmakers call them traitors and accuse them of supporting Hamas, but MK Gnaim says he didn't come to Knesset because of Ramadan.

Rivlin sworn in as president, July 23. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Rivlin sworn in as president, July 23.
Arab MKs from UAL-Ta'al, Balad and Hadash did not attend President Reuven Rivlin's inauguration Thursday, leading some Likud MKs to accuse them of boycotting the Knesset in protest against Operation Protective Shield.
However, MK Masoud Gnaim (UAL-Ta'al) said he stayed home to break the Ramadan fast.
"There wasn't any coordination between Arab MKs that we wouldn't come," Gnaim added.
At least one Arab MK - Hana Sweid of Hadash - cannot pin his absence on Ramadan, as he is Christian. However, he was unavailable for comment at press time.
A Balad spokesman declined comment as to whether or not the party's MKs were boycotting the event.
According to Deputy Transportation Minister Tzipi Hotovely, "Arab MKs prefer to encourage Hamas rather than take part in the presidential inauguration.
"Israel can no longer allow this two-facedness. They are facing Gaza, not Jerusalem. Whoever identifies with the enemy in war time is not worthy of having Israeli citizenship, and certainly should not be members of Knesset," she added.
Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Ze'ev Elkin (Likud) called the Arab MKs' absence "audacious, cynical and hypocritical all at once."
"They did not hesitate for a minute to vote and influence the result of the election [for president]. Whoever boycotts the president of his country and the army of his country in the time of a forced war to defend our home against against a villainous terrorist organization, should not sit in our state parliament," he said.
Elkin added that "the time has come for the traitors to leave the Knesset and run for the Hamas parliament in Gaza."
Two Arab MKs did attend the inauguration - MK Hamad Amar (Yisrael Beytenu), who is Druse, and MK Issawi Freij (Meretz).