Arab party head says Balad may be banned

Odeh praises 'worthy' meeting between 3 MKs and terrorists' families, says 'radicals' in Knesset are 'dancing on our blood.'

Ari Yashar,

Ayman Odeh
Ayman Odeh
Miriam Alster/Flash 90

Arab MK Ayman Odeh, chairman of the Joint List party, on Monday morning gave his full backing to three MKs of his party's Balad faction who last week met with the families of ten Arab terrorists from Jerusalem - but he admitted the faction may be banned due to the move.

Odeh, who upon taking office revealed his subversive past that included assaulting police officers and who recently met with arch-terrorist Marwan Barghouti, spoke with Walla on Monday about last Tuesday's meeting.

In the meeting, MKs Hanin Zoabi, Jamal Zahalka and Basel Ghattas comforted the families of the terrorists, who they called "bereaved families," and promised to return the bodies of the terrorists, who they termed "martyrs." Their efforts apparently worked despite widespread outrage over the meeting, as it was reported Monday an agreement has been reached to return the bodies.

"The essence of the meeting of the Balad members was the right essence, I support it and I think that they did a worthy act," Odeh said Monday.

Among the families present at the meeting was that of Baha Alian, who together with another accomplice last October conducted a shooting attack on a bus, murdering 78-year-old Haim Habib, 51-year-old Alon Guvberg and 76-year-old Richard Lakin. The bodies of the terrorists have been held as a deterrent measure, so as to prevent celebratory massive funerals.

"There is a near consensus in the entire society that the act of returning bodies is an appropriate act," claimed Odeh, although he added that he "condemns the killing of innocents."

The Arab party head also noted on how the three MKs took part in a minute of silence and prayer for the souls of the terrorists at the opening of the meeting.

Trying to excuse the MKs, he said, "maybe part of the Israeli culture doesn't communicate with the Arab culture. There was no minute of silence, there was a call that we say over every dead person, even if you opposed his actions."

"Balad may be banned"

Odeh acknowledged that he and MK Ahmed Tibi of his party were also invited to join the meeting but refused - however, he clarified that the refusal was not because he does not support the terrorists' families, but rather he didn't have time to go.

"It's a matter of priorities and what was happening that day," he said.

On Monday a discussion is being held in the Knesset plenum over what to do with the three Balad MKs, and Odeh said in advance that members of his party would not be present.

"They held a drumhead court-martial against us with provocations, and we aren't interested in taking part in it. Therefore we will be absent today in order not to let the radicals dance on our blood," Odeh stated.

The MK also noted on the record number of complaints to the Knesset Ethics Committee filed against the three MKs, and likewise the order by the Attorney General on Sunday to the police requesting that they gather information on the meeting to allow him to decide on launching a criminal investigation.

In response to the moves against the Balad MKs, Odeh said that there is a good chance the entire faction will be outlawed.

"I think that in this atmosphere which contains fascism, it could be that Balad will be distanced from the Knesset," he said.

"Certainly in such a case we will petition the High Court together. I'm not sure what the High Court will decide, and I'm concerned about a case like this because it will be a serious harm to the democratic space and against the Arab population."

On Sunday Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu presented Coalition-member party heads with a new bill by which MKs can be suspended by a vote of 90 MKs for improper conduct, indicating his plans to confront the pro-terror MKs.




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