Arab MK Tibi Forcibly Removed from Podium
Arab MK Tibi Forcibly Removed from PodiumIsrael news photo: Knesset Channel

For the first time in memory, a Knesset Member was forcibly removed from the podium: Arab MK Ahmed Tibi.

Tibi had been allotted the normal three minutes to speak about the recent trip he organized for Arab Knesset Members to Libya, at the invitation of Libyan dictator Muammar Gadaffi. The trip has been sharply criticized, and the participants are likely not to be allowed to run for Knesset, based on a law banning visits to enemy countries.

After several minutes, the acting Speaker, Likud MK Carmel Shama, asked Tibi to conclude and descend from the podium, as his allotted time had come to an end. Tibi refused, yelling at Shama, calling him names, and saying, “Get out of here.” “You’re using terrorism against me,” Tibi also accused, to which Shama replied, “The terrorism doesn’t generally come from our side.”

Finally, after about six minutes of arguing, Shama asked the Knesset ushers to come and remove Tibi forcibly. Tibi held on to the podium with both hands, refusing to be moved and saying twice, “I just want to say this last sentence." He finally gave in, muttering "you have no shame," and allowed the ushers to escort him down, from where he returned to his seat.

Asked later what sentence he wanted to add, Tibi said, “I wanted to say that we [Arab MKs – ed.] were summoned to a Knesset House Committee session on the topic of the removal of our immunity, and that we are not planning to appear.”

'Seize the moment'

The proposal to remove their immunity was submitted by MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union). Knesset Speaker Ruby Rivlin criticized the proposal, saying Ben-Ari should not use the term “traitors” on MKs who have not been questioned or investigated for their actions. Ben-Ari said in response that he hopes the Knesset House Committee “seizes the moment to wipe the smiles off the faces of those who mock the Knesset and country.”

MK Tibi, a former advisor to Yasser Arafat, has a violent background. In 1987, Tibi was involved in an altercation at Hadassah Hospital. According to a hospital spokesman, "Tibi hit a security guard with his briefcase on the skull, and left him lying on the floor bleeding. He [the guard] needed several stitches." 

In 2001, an internal Justice Ministry investigation found that it was Tibi who assaulted a Border Guard policeman in a February incident, and not, as Tibi had claimed, that the policeman attacked him. 

In the same year, a Jerusalem court found that Tibi was not telling the truth when he accused three Kach activists of assaulting him, and Yehuda Levinger of Jerusalem filed a police complaint charging that Tibi had punched him during a Knesset committee session.