Knesset Reprimands Tibi for Martyr's Day Speech

Former Arafat aide MK Ahmed Tibi was given a 'severe reprimand' by the Knesset Ethics Committee for glorifying terrorism.

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Gabe Kahn.,

Ahmed Tibi (file)
Ahmed Tibi (file)
Israel news photo: Flash 90

The Knesset Ethics Committee issued a "severe reprimand" to MK Ahmed Tibi following a speech he recently published in "Martyr Day" that glorified terrorism against Israelis.

The reprimand came after hearings held by the Ethics Committee over complaint filed by the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel against Tibi.

Tibi, who served as a personal advisor to PLO arch-terrorist Yassir Arafat before running for Knesset, claimed during the hearing that the "understanding" of the word "martyr" alleged in the complaint was incorrect. He also claimed that his speech - this year - was revised.

The committee, however, concluded "the meaning of MK Tibi's words, especially in his first speech, "followed its usual manner." It also said Tibi's speech was clearly sympathetic to "acts of terror and violence against Israel, its soldiers, and its citizens."

"In this case, an MK [Tibi] expressed support for the killing of citizens of the state in terrorist attacks," the committee said. "As is known, the Ethics Committee is careful to maintain the freedom of expression of Knesset members, even when that expression is extreme."

"However, the committee finds it necessary to censure political expressions that incite and support violence. It is clear that MK Tibi's expression was of this sort and that the use of the word martyr – especially in light of his previous speech – was intended as such," it added.

"Accordingly, given the fact that there is no doubt in the committee's mind that the publication of MK Tibi's remarks caused serious damage to the dignity of the Knesset, and the public's confidence in the Knesset, the Committee exercises its authority under section 13 d (d) (3 a) governing representative immunity, impose on MK Ahmed Tibi, a severe reprimand," it concluded.

Deputy Knesset Speaker MK Danny Danon (Likud) said the Ethics Committee decision to censure Tibi was insufficient.

"Here, a Knesset member has glorified murderers and terrorists, and incites terrorists against Israel and its citizens," Danon said. "Tibi must be removed from the Knesset and put on trial for incitement to terrorism. He should be sitting behind bars."

"Merely reprimanding him is badge of shame to the Knesset and gives legitimacy to all those who hate Israel, and empowers them to continue acting against Israelis and Israel," Danon added.

The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel welcomed the committee's decision. Attorney Hila Cohen, counsel for the forum, said a severe reprimand was "appropriate," but added that in the grand scheme of things it was "too light for something so serious."

"Tibi's participation in a criminal meeting indicates relentless subversion seeking death and the destruction of Israel," she added, referring to Tibi's history of open support and contact with terror leaders from Hamas and other terror groups seeking Israel's destruction.