Daily Israel Report

Tibi Denies Saying 'We'll Pressure Gilad Shalit' Despite Video

MK Ahmed Tibi denies he said that if the Shalit Law is passed 'we will pressure Gilad Shalit.' Knesset passes law Wednesday in the first reading.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 5/26/2010, 10:01 PM / Last Update: 5/26/2010, 10:10 PM

MK Ahmed Tibi denied Wednesday that he had threatened "we will put pressure on Gilad Shalit" if prisoners' conditions are worsened through Knesset legislation.

His denial notwithstanding, video shows that in an interview Sunday with Channel 1 Television's Uri Levy, MK Tibi said: “Just as you are putting pressure on the prisoners in the jails we will put pressure on Gilad Shalit.” Tibi did not say whom he was referring to by “we” but the only possible explanation seems to be that he was speaking for Hamas, the terror organization holding captured Israeli soldier First Sergeant Gilad Shalit for close to four years.

The fact that his utterance was broadcast on television and is freely available for viewing and listening did not prevent Tibi from denying he ever said it, in a speech Wednesday from the Knesset podium.

In his speech, Tibi presented his opposition to the “Shalit Law“ that would revoke many of the privileges currently enjoyed by terrorist prisoners in Israeli jails. He denied he ever threatened to pressure Shalit. Similar accusations, he said, had been hurled at him in attempts to prevent him from running for Knesset, but they are “completely baseless” and do not deserve his response.

Tibi, a former adviser to PLO leader Yasser Arafat, recently flew to Libya and met the country's strongman Muammar Qaddafi. A gynecologist by profession, Tibi is considered a brillant man who knows exactly what buttons to press in the Israeli psyche to achieve the effect he desires, expertly pushing the limits of what the Israeli public and Knesset can tolerate. He has a long history of behavior and speech that many Jews see as outright treason, but all attempts to prevent him and other Arab leaders of his ilk from running for the Knesset have been stymied by the High Court.  

Tibi may be losing some of his magic touch of late, however. Last month he was forcibly removed from the Knesset podium, despite his desperate attempts to cling to it.

MKs Danny Danon and Yariv Levin (Likud) both presented versions of a law that would prevent terrorist prisoners in Israel's jails from enjoying the privileges they currently have, which include family visits, access to cable television and the right to complete university degrees by correspondence. The bills both passed in preliminary readings Wednesday.

The government said it may wind up formulating its own version of the bill to replace the current versions.