11 MKs Visit Ramallah, Right: 'Trip Rewards Terror'
Rightist MKs have voiced harsh criticism for a visit made Monday by 11 MKs to meet Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in his Ramallah compound.
The 11, members of the Caucus to Promote Resolution of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, made the trip to pledge their support for ongoing negotiations with Israel. The caucus has some 40 members and seeks to demonstrate its support for negotiations to establish a Palestinian State as a resolution to regional conflict with PA Arabs.
Monday's delegation comprised MKs from Labor, Meretz and Hatnua, with two Shas MKs withdrawing following the death of the party's spiritual head, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.
MK Hilik Bar (Labor) who heads the Caucus said after the visit which was hosted by Abbas at his presidential palace, “It was important to me to emphasize both to us in Israel, to [the international community], and to Palestinians that we have a majority in the Knesset and it’s really in the hands of these two leaders to close the deal and bring us peace." Bar estimated that 70 to 80 of the Knesset’s 120 members would vote in favor of a two-state solution.
The visit drew harsh criticism from politicians on the right - who deplored it as a "reward" for the recent spate of terror attacks on Israelis.
Yesh Atid head Finance Minister Yair Lapid forbade party members in the caucus to take part in the visit following the recent attacks, with Likud and Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) MKs slamming the trip as "encouraging terror attacks."
Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) called on MKs to pull out of the planned visit saying Abbas had failed to stop attacks on Israelis.
"It is unacceptable that Abbas talks about the peace process while groups connected to his Fatah party are carrying out terrorist attacks in Israel that he does not do anything to prevent,” Katz said.
MK Avraham Wortzman (Bayit Yehudi) actually took steps to torpedo the trip - pleading with Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein to cancel the Ramallah visit, and writing to Labor MK Hilik Bar, who led the delegation, telling him it would increase the threat of further terrorism.
"Official representatives of the Knesset should not meet with the head of the PA, which by not condemning the terrorist attacks encourages the terrorists to continue with full force,” Wortzman wrote.
Last week nine year old Noam Glick was shot in the neck at close range by a Palestinian Authority Arab in the community of Psagot. Last month two IDF soldiers were killed in separate incidents: Tomar Hazan was lured to a PA town and murdered while Gal Kobi was killed by a sniper while on patrol in the city of Hevron.
MK Bar claimed the visit was essential and that cancelling it would be granting a victory to terrorists.
In May, the caucus hosted a delegation of PA lawmakers – an event which saw the PLO flag displayed in the Knesset for the first time.