MK who snuck into 'Al Aqsa' gets silent treatment

MK Basel Ghattas was hoping to provoke the plenum but instead, Likud decided to ignore him.

Gil Ronen ,

Basel Ghattas
Basel Ghattas
Hadas Parush/Flash 90

MK Basel Ghattas of the Arab Joint List was hoping for a fiery debate in the Knesset Wednesday evening, hours after he snuck into the Temple Mount despite instructions from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to the police not to let MKs into the Mount, by wearing a beret and hiding the fact that he is a Knesset Member.

He was convinced that following the well-publicized provocation, the plenum would be full of MKs and news cameras, eagerly awaiting his pronouncements. Alas – this was not to be. Ghattas encountered a near-empty plenum, and it turned out later that this was no coincidence.

A few hours earlier, Netanyahu expressed his anger at the decision to let Ghattas introduce, in a speech to the plenum, the subject of the disagreement over the installation of surveillance cameras on the Temple Mount – since the entire matter is so sensitive at the moment.

Netanyahu and the senior Coalition members assumed that Ghattas was spoiling for a provocation inside the Knesset. The last thing they wanted was to see him taken off the podium by force as he screamed and wailed about "the sanctity of the Al Aqsa mosque," providing valuable fodder for the anti-Israeli foreign press.

As a preventative measure, reported news site NRG Thursday, Likud MKs were all asked not to be present in the plenum when Ghattas spoke. Other Coalition parties received similar requests. Ghattas' colleagues from the Opposition did not feel like honoring him with their presence either, for some reason.

And so it was that when Ghattas spoke, only four MKs were on hand to hear him: the minister on duty, Gila Gamliel (the government is obligated to send at least one representative to the plenum); session chairman MK Yoel Hasson (Zionist Union); MK Miki Levy (Yesh Atid) and Miki Zohar of Likud, who apparently couldn't help himself.

Gamliel even asked – in an unusual step – to be excused from replying to Ghattas.

And so, a disappointed Ghattas who was hoping to make more headlines received a total boycott instead. NRG claimed that none of the news websites devoted even a single newsflash to the speech.

Ghattas is known for provocations like boarding a pro-terror flotilla and addressing the plenum with a keffiyeh on his head. This time, the Christian Arab lawmaker snuck into the Temple Mount. But he did not get the satisfaction he hoped for in Wednesday's plenum session, and immediately after his speech, he was seen in an apparent state of dejection, hurriedly leaving the plenum and the Knesset building.

Minister Miri Regev did respond earlier in the Knesset plenum to the Temple Mount visit that Ghattas undertook, against Prime Minister Netanyahu’s explicit request and instructions.

“I call on Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein to immediately work to have Basel Ghattas dismissed from Israel’s Knesset. His visit to the Temple Mount against the PM’s instructions is a provocation that will lead to the loss of human life. We cannot allow him and his friends to abuse democracy in order to hurt citizens of the State of Israel,” Regev stated.