Arab MKs Attend Fatah Convention

Three Arab MKs are taking part in an historic conference of the Fatah movement in Bethlehem. A terror victims' group and a nationalist MK respond.

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Nissan Ratzlav-Katz,

MK Ahmed Tibi
MK Ahmed Tibi
Israel News photo: (file)

Three Arab Knesset Members are taking part in an historic conference of the Fatah movement in Bethlehem on Tuesday. A terror victims' association and MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) respond.

One of the MKs in attendance at the conference, Ahmed Tibi of the United Arab List-Taal party, was a key advisor to the late Fatah chief and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat before joining the Israeli parliament in 1999. MK Tibi represented the PLO leader at the Wye River negotiations between then-Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Arafat.

Tibi and his faction colleague MK Taleb El-Sana were reportedly held up for an hour at an IDF checkpoint outside Bethlehem on Monday evening. The two were on their way to the city ahead of the official opening of the Fatah conference. Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas sent a vehicle to pick up the Arab MKs from their location. IDF sources said the soldiers were following procedures and that the MKs were allowed through after their documentation was verified.

Another Arab MK, Muhammad Barakeh, is also taking part in the Fatah gathering. Barakeh represents the Hadash party, an ostensibly mixed Arab-Jewish Communist faction. In practice the party primarily represents Arab Israelis, although it currently has one Jewish MK, Dov Khenin.

'Like US Senators at an Al-Qaeda Conference'
In response to the news that three Arab MKs are attending the Fatah conference, National Union MK Michael Ben-Ari said that they should have their taxpayer-provided salaries withheld.

"Tibi and his cohorts can receive their salaries from the Palestinian parliament," he said, "but not from the account of the state they oppose and scorn."

Taking action on the matter, the Almagor terror victims association appealed to the Knesset House Committee and to the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee requesting that they call urgent sessions to discuss the behavior of the Arab MKs. The organization is calling for parliamentary disciplinary hearings for the MKs, with appropriate sanctions imposed.

"Fatah was declared by Israel to be an illegal terrorist organization," Almagor Chairman Meir Indor said. "The participation of Israeli MKs in a conference that includes murderers and terrorist masterminds - with thousands of murders and injuries on their hands - is a moral degradation, and an insult to terror victims and bereaved families."

Indor added: "Just try to imagine two American Congressmen traveling to an Al-Qaeda conference in Pakistan, two Spanish parliamentarians turning up among Basques in order to celebrate with the Basque underground, or British MPs advising the IRA in Belfast. Would [those countries] agree to that? Only in Israel does the Knesset not react to such an act of treason, and it awards its perpetrators parliamentary immunity and a media platform."