Does the Israeli Knesset's deputy speaker represent Palestine? He does at the Doha Forum in Qatar.
MK Ahmad Tibi, chairman of the United Arab List – Ta'al party in the Knesset, is listed as a Palestinian official in the conference registry.
In all, 537 dignitaries are in attendance at Doha. The Israeli delegation includes 23 representatives, led by Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni. Palestine is represented by six people – and is led by Tibi. In a separate column the occupation of each participant is also specified, Tibi's says 'Israeli Knesset, Arab.'
Copy of Doha registry
During Livni's keynote address at the conference earlier Monday evening, Tibi asked the foreign affairs minister during the subsequent Q&A session how she could talk of democracy when referring to a Jewish nation. "Israel is an apartheid state," he charged.
Livni fielded the question from the podium and answered Tibi: "The very fact that you are an Israeli Knesset member, that you are the deputy speaker of the Knesset as a matter of fact, who represents 20% of Israel's population, that you are here and that you can say anything you please – that is the proof that Israel is a democratic nation."
MK: Tibi's place is in Ramallah
News of Tibi's decision to represent 'Palestine' stirred outrage, as expected, from the right, but also a considerable deal of fury from the government.
Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Majalli Whbee of Kadima said in response that perhaps it was "time for Ahmad Tibi to decide which country he represents. It is Tibi's right to stand for the country or entity of his choosing, but he cannot be a member of one nation's parliament while representing another at international conventions."
Whbee said he intends to take the matter up with the Knesset Ethics Committee so as to determine the "disciplinary and other possible implications of an Israeli MK's decision to represent a foreign entity."
Chairman of Yisrael Beitenu, MK Avigdor Lieberman, called Tibi "a fifth column – in every sense of the word. Tibi should transfer from the Israeli Knesset to the Palestinian Authority's parliament in Ramallah.
He is using his position as an MK to inflict harm upon the State of Israel and destroy is from within, as is proven by this case."
MK Yoel Hasson, who acts as whip for the Kadima faction, said in response that "perhaps it is time for Ahmad Tibi to be at peace with his definition as a Palestinian and leave us and the Israeli Knesset alone.
"The Knesset should examine this report and Tibi's behavior in general, if we are to continue accepting him as an equal among equals. If he does not leave of his own accord, we will see how we can assist him in doing so."
Tibi 'not representing anyone'
Tibi's office rejected the claims and said that the MK "received an individual invitation to the Doha Forum from the Qatari authorities. The invitation and other documents from the conference all say he is from Israel.
"There are no national delegations at the conference, there are personal invitations and therefore Tibi is not representing Palestine, or any other country.
"Besides," his press secretary added with a smile, "even former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon once called him a Palestinian MK from the podium."