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'I'm speaking Hebrew.' Zahalka
Photo: Noam Moscowitz
'Only in Israel.' Netanyahu
Photo: Gil Yohanan
MK Zahalka: Racist laws target Arab sector
During heated Knesset debate ahead of vote on three controversial bills, Arab MK says 'we'll ask international community for protection.' PM: Israel only place where Arab lawmakers allowed to criticize state

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Arab Knesset Member Jamal Zahalka (Balad) exchanged harsh words regarding the Nakba bill and other pending laws during a heated Knesset plenum meeting Tuesday evening.

 

"Today the Knesset will pass three racist laws," Zahalka said, referring to three highly controversial laws which are expected to pass late Tuesday night.

  

The re-worked version of the "Nakba bill" would require the state to fine local authorities and other state-funded bodies for holding events marking Nakba Day by supporting armed resistance or racism against Israel, or desecrating the state flag or nation symbols.

 

On Nakba Day Palestinians mark the "catastrophe" of Israel's inception in 1948.

 

The second bill that is expected to pass would formalize the establishment of admission committees to review potential residents of Negev and Galilee communities that have fewer than 400 families, while the third bill stipulates that owners of illegal structures will be billed for their demolition.

 

According to Zahalka, these laws target Israel's Arab community. Zahalka told Netanyahu: "If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a duck." Netanyahu responded by telling Zahalka: "Your right to quack here –that's democracy."

 

Zahalka said, "I'm not quaking; I'm speaking Hebrew. After this sad night we will ask the international community to protect us from this anti-democratic government headed by Netanyahu."

 

During his speech, Netanyahu said "Israel is the only place where Arab Knesset members are allowed to stand here on the rostrum, criticize, attack and insult."

 

"Their claims sound hollow when we see what's going on around us. There is no Arab country where Arabs have the rights and democratic freedom to express themselves as they do in the State of Israel… There is freedom here and this freedom is what a lot of people in the Arab world search for today," he added.

 

After Netanyahu said the Palestinians must publicly condemn the massacre in the settlement of Itamar, MK Ahmad Tibi (United Arab List-Ta'al) asked him: "Would you be willing to condemn the killing of children in Gaza?" Tibi was referring to the IDF attack in the Hamas-ruled territory Tuesday, in which four people, including two youths, were killed.

 

The Arab lawmaker added: "The 'Lamed-Hey' (The 35) fighters were also terrorists, and you held a memorial ceremony in their honor." Tibi was eventually thrown out of the plenum.

 

 

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