MK Ahmed Tibi’s office denied on Sunday the reports that he went to New York to be a part of the Palestinian Authority’s delegation to the United Nations as it presents its unilateral statehood bid.
“MK Tibi travelled by invitation of the U.S. Congress to lecture at Columbia University and participate in the activities for the Palestinian Authority’s bid at the UN, and he is doing so with pride and with his head held high,” the Ma’ariv newspaper quoted Tibi’s office as saying.
The statement goes on to say, “Tibi is not a member of the Palestinian delegation, of course, but he is a strong supporter of the delegation and will express his position on every stage in New York.”
Earlier on Sunday, the Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency reported that PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas would be flying from Amman, Jordan, to New York, and would be joined “by his advisers Nabil Abu Rudaineh and Majdi al-Khaldi, PLO Secretary-General Yasser Abed Rabbo, PLO official Saeb Erekat, negotiator Mohammed Shtayeh, PLC member Qais Khadir and Palestinian member of the Israeli Knesset Ahmad Tibi.”
A Ma’an correspondent with the delegation said they were “ready for this historical event.”
The report was met with outrage by Israeli politicians. Knesset Speaker MK Reuven Rivlin said, “If the rumors are true that a Knesset member has joined the PA’s delegation to the UN, this is unacceptable.”
“Every member of the Knesset can say his position in the Knesset,” Rivlin added, “but an MK joining a process that bypasses the State of Israel is contrary to the parliamentary and democratic standards. I would like MK Tibi to clarify if there is any truth in these reports and if there is not, to emphatically deny them.”
MK Uri Ariel (National Union) called Tibi’s actions treasonous, saying, “Parliamentary immunity does not grant Tibi the right to carry out subversion, and freedom of speech does not give him legitimacy to join the anti-Semitic chorus calling for the establishment of a Jew-free state.”
“I call upon the Knesset to remove Tibi’s immunity, and call upon the police to investigate his deeds in order to put him on trial,” Ariel added.
Likud MK Ofir Akunis said Tibi’s trip “crossed another red line and proved that he represents only the Palestinian interest in the Knesset and not the interests of Israel's Arab citizens.”
MK Akunis said that he intended to file a complaint to the Knesset’s Ethics Committee over Tibi’s actions.
Arab MKs are notorious for statements and deeds designed to mock Israel and to show their disrespect for the state. Several of them, Tibi included, recently encouraged the PA to submit its statehood bid to the UN.
At the time Tibi told reporters in the Arab media, “There is no need to head off the Palestinian move in attaining UN statehood recognition. The Israeli side is extremely confused, annoyed and disturbed with the Palestinian bid.”
“The current US attempt is pointless and useless, aimed only at averting the Palestinian UN plan, where the Americans use political and ethical double standards and act under the Israeli demands,” added Tibi.