Zouheir Bahloul, the only Arab MK in the Zionist Union, caused a furor on Thursday when he claimed the Palestinian who stabbed an IDF soldier in Hebron and was later shot dead by another soldier despite having already been neutralized - was not a terrorist.
Speaking to Army Radio, Bahloul made the distinction between those who attack civilians and those who attack soldiers.
"I agree the stabber is a murderer, but he is not a terrorist. My problem is when this word becomes too inclusive and turns every Palestinian into a terrorist," he said.
His statement garnered condemnations from across the political spectrum. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Bahloul's comments were "disgraceful. IDF soldiers protect our lives from bloodthirsty murderers with their bodies. I expect all citizens of Israel, and particularly members of Knesset, to give them full backing."
The Bayit Yehudi party was quick to issue a statement, saying "the Labor party is slowly turning from post-Zionist to pro-Palestinian. Yitzhak Rabin is turning in his grave."
Rebukes also came from Bahloul's own party. Zionist Union chairman Isaac Herzog said he "clarified to MK Bahloul that I reject and strongly condemn his statements and that the Zionist Union's position stipulates that a terrorist is a terrorist is a terrorist. It does not matter if he sets out to kill Arabs or Jews."
Herzog also slammed Bayit Yeduhi: "The heads of the Bayit Yehudi party, who are leading a racist campaign and are pushing to release the suspect in the Duma murder, should stop preaching to us about morality and shut their mouths."
Meanwhile, MK Itzik Shmuli from the Zionist Union said Bahloul's comments were "extreme and unacceptable for most Israelis, including supporters of the Zionist Union. The way to disengage from the Palestinians doesn't go through distortions of reality. A terrorist is a terrorist and that is how he should be treated. I have great respect for Zouheir, but I think in this case he is mistaken both in what he's saying and in the way he chose to say it, and he should backtrack on his comments."
MK Robert Ilatov of Yisrael Beytenu was blunter. "It appears that encouraging and justifying terrorism have become a regular custom for the Arab MKs and it's a shame that Zouheir Bahloul choose to join the band of agitators that includes Ghattas, Zahalka and Zoabi. Condoning the bloodletting of Israeli soldiers and citizens by giving legitimacy to terrorists who kill soldiers while they defend Israeli civilians with their own bodies is abhorrent and criminal. We must not ignore such statements. It is time to put an end to the violent and dangerous incitement that these MKs foment."