The Knesset convened Wednesday to discuss a ruling issued by 50 city rabbis against selling or renting apartments to Arabs, and heard harsh condemnations from Arab lawmakers.
Knesset Member Ahmad Tibi (United Arab List-Ta'al) said during the discussion, "I am certain that the number of rabbis will rise. Since the Arabs are a Semitic people – this is anti-Semitism. These rabbis are skinheads acting against the Arabs."
Tibi's remarks enraged many right-wing and religious lawmakers who called on him to take back his harsh remarks.
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin removed MK Talab El Sana (United Arab List-Ta'al) from the hall after he referred to the rabbis as "scum of the earth", claiming that "they are not rabbis but racists."
El Sana turned to Interior Minister Eli Yishai who was addressing the Knesset and asked him why he had failed to condemn the rabbis. Yishai responded that the Palestinian Authority executed people who sold houses to Jews. El Sana replied, "We are in Israel and the law forbids incitement to racism."
"Any rabbi in Israel is authorized to rule what he believes in according to Jewish law," Yishai said. "The Israeli Knesset does not approve halachic rulings, so it's not my job to tell a rabbi what to rule and what not to rule. I, as interior minister, am not supposed to enforce rabbis' rulings."
Minister Braverman: I am ashamed
Knesset Speaker Rivlin told him, "In the Jewish and democratic country, the combination of Jewish and democratic has been causing problems for 62 years now… And yet, issuing a ruling which contradicts the laws of the State of Israel and saying that they are allowed to do at the Knesset…I would be careful."
Rivlin asked to transfer the meeting's protocol to the attorney general, who would examine whether it includes any illegal incitement.
Minister Avishay Braverman called on Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein to launch a criminal investigation against the rabbis, saying that "as a minister and a proud Jew – any refusal to rent apartments is wrong. I am ashamed."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the rabbis on Tuesday. "If someone had said, 'Don't sell apartments to Jews,' we would protest," Netanyahu said during the Bible Quiz for adults. "Such things must not be said, not by Jews and not by Arabs."
The prime minister added that "the State of Israel rejects such things out of hand."
Ronen Medzini contributed to this report
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