Palestinian bandwagon

Israel’s legendary foreign minister Abba Eban is often quoted as having said that: “The Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity” and “The Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” This week, yet again, some Israeli Arab MKs joined Palestinian leaders in choosing lawfare over the chance for progress.

The revelation by Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, that members of the Joint Arab List would be joining the Palestinian Authority in a petition to the UN against the recently passed Nation-State Basic Law managed to do something rare in this country’s fractured political environment – unite MKs from Left, Center and Right in condemnation.

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The Hadashot News site reported that the Palestinian ambassador to the UN, Riyad Mansour, is trying to advance a resolution next month that likens the legislation to apartheid.

In a message to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, Danon said: “In the last two years, we have witnessed strong collaboration between the Arab MKs and the Palestinian delegation to the UN in actions whose sole aim is incitement and defaming Israel and the IDF in UN platforms.”

Knesset Internal Affairs Committee Chairman MK Yoav Kisch (Likud) asked the House Committee to amend the regulations so that more severe penalties could be imposed on parliamentarians who act against Israel in the international arena.

Tourism Minister Yariv Levin (Likud) is quoted as describing the Arab MKs’ behavior as “treason” and called for their diplomatic passports to be revoked.

Opposition leader and former foreign minister Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union), who vehemently condemned the law when it passed last month, nonetheless on Monday in a meeting with ambassadors from nearly a dozen countries, strongly criticized the Joint Arab List MKs. According to Hadashot News, Livni urged the ambassadors not to interfere in Israel’s internal affairs and not to “fall into the trap” set by the members of the Joint Arab List.

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Livni reportedly told the ambassadors that the Israeli Arab MKs and the Palestinian Authority “do not accept the principle that Israel is the state of the Jewish people,” adding, “It is impossible with the same breath to demand two states for two peoples and at the same time not accept that Israel is the state of the Jewish people.”

Joint List MK Aida Twouma-Sliman, who met UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo in New York last week, insists that the Nation-State Law “is an apartheid law.”

However, both she and MK Ahmad Tibi, a former adviser to Yasser Arafat, denied they were involved in a move against the legislation in the UN together with the Palestinians.

The apartheid canard is particularly absurd coming from Israel Arab parliamentarians such as Twouma-Sliman – a feminist activist and former journalist who chairs a Knesset committee – and Tibi, a physician, who is a former Knesset deputy speaker.

The latest controversy follows on the heels of the demonstration in Tel Aviv on August 11 against the Nation-State Law organized by the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, where Palestinian flags were raised and slogans of “With blood and spirit we will redeem Palestine,” were heard. Similar calls were sounded and the Palestinian colors seen on August 20 at the mass funeral in the Israeli Arab town of Umm el-Fahm for a resident who was shot dead while attacking a policeman in Jerusalem. (His family claimed he had psychological problems.)

Such conduct strengthens the position of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that there was a need for the Nation-State Law. Rather than helping their own community, the Arab leaders are harming it. And by joining the Palestinian Authority’s diplomatic war on Israel, they are distancing the chances of peace.

As Edelstein put it, those MKs who cooperate with the PA against Israel “should ask themselves whether their rightful place is in the Palestinian or Israeli parliament.”

Arab citizens deserve better leadership representing them in the Knesset. They should have MKs who are concerned with promoting their rights and needs rather than devoting their time and efforts, at the Israeli taxpayers’ expense, to the Palestinian cause – which still does not recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.

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