Netanyahu wants to kick Arab MKs out of the Knesset for meeting with families of Palestinian terrorists. Will the same standard be upheld for those who meet with Jewish terrorists?
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants to punish Palestinian members of Knesset for meeting with families of Palestinians who have carried out deadly attacks against Jewish Israelis. But could his initiative backfire and end up punishing members of his own government?
The prime minister announced on Sunday that he would be promoting legislation to bar three MKs who met with families of terrorists from serving in Knesset. His announcement came in response to a report that Arab members of Knesset from the nationalist Balad faction of the Joint List met with the families of Palestinian terrorists. The Balad MKs said the visit was humanitarian, in order to help negotiate the release of the bodies Israel refuses is holding on to. The MKs reportedly took part in a moment of silence for the attackers.
Netanyahu called on the opposition to support his initiative in addition to a complaint he filed against the three with the Knesset’s Ethics Committee.
The prime minister’s proposal, however, could entangle a top minister in the Israeli government. According to American liberal Jewish newspaper The Forward, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked met recently with the mother of an Israeli-American minor suspect in the murder of three Palestinians last year. The arson in the West Bank village of Duma was considered a terrorist attack by the Israeli government and defense establishment. According to his attorney, following his arrest, the minor was subject to torture and solitary confinement by his Shin Bet interrogators.
In that case, allegations of torture markedly overshadowed the meeting between Israel’s justice minister with the mother of a suspected terrorist. In fact, as opposed to the Balad MKs, details of Shaked’s meeting could not be reported in the Israeli media due to a sweeping gag order on the case.
The Duma suspect, however, is only the tip of the iceberg. Israeli leaders have not only met with the families of convicted terrorists, some of them even employ them. Take Nathan Nathanson, who was convicted in 1985 for his involvement in the Jewish Underground and taking part in three car bombings against Palestinian mayors in June 1980. He was sentenced to three years in prison. Today Nathanson is a political advisor to Education Minister Naftali Bennett.
Or take Ze’ev “Zambish” Hever, a veteran leader of the settler movement and the subject of a recent investigative report, exposing him for fraudulently purchasing Palestinian land for the purpose of building illegal settlement outposts. Hever, who was also a member of the Jewish Underground, served a scant 11 months in prison for placing a bomb under a car belonging to Dr. Ahmed Natshe, a political figure in Hebron, in 1984. He has been closely associated with several Israeli prime ministers, most prominently Ariel Sharon, who is known as the father of the settlement movement.
Or what about Haggai Segal, who today serves as the editor-in-chief of right-wing newspaper Makor Rishon? Segal served two years in prison for planting bombs under the car of then-Ramallah Mayor Karim Khalaf and in the garage of Al-Bireh Mayor Ibrahim Tawil. Segal’s son, Amit, is a reporter for Channel 2 news, and has interviewed Netanyahu on various occasions. According to his own logic, Netanyahu, too, must be kicked out of Israel’s parliament.
And this isn’t even taking into account the countless number of members of pre-state Jewish militias such as the Palmach, Etzel, and Lehi — including several prime ministers — who committed massacres and headed expulsions in the years leading up to and during the 1948 War, only later to become leaders in the nascent Jewish state.