MK Rotem
MK RotemIsrael news photo: file

The Knesset received additional doses of radical anti-Zionist rhetoric from Arab representatives Monday. This time it was MK Taleb As-Sana of Raam-Taal who used a debate in the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee on the construction freeze to infuriate his Jewish-nationalist colleagues. As-Sana said the Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria are “a cancerous growth in the Territories. They have no reason to be there.”

In a quick response, committee chairman MK David Rotem said: “If the settlers are a cancerous growth in the body of the Palestinian state, I prefer that they grow until the Palestinian state dies.”

The session was called in order to discuss the legal aspects of the construction freeze in Judea and Samaria and the degree to which it impinges on human rights.

The committee members had hoped that Defense Minister Ehud Barak would show up for the debate but he did not, sending his deputy, Matan Vilnai, instead, along with a cohort of IDF officers. When Vilnai said that Barak's schedule was very busy, the nationalist MKs answered: “he is busy tearing down outposts.”

To protest Barak's non-attendance, MK Uri Orbach (Jewish Home) prepared a sign with the words “Defense Minister Ehud Barak” and placed it in front of one of the empty chairs next to the table. “Ehud ran away again, this time from the Knesset,” Orbach said. “He has become the Invisible Man, who sees and cannot be seen, who enforces but is not enforced. Barak thinks the Knesset committees exist for decorative purposes only, and are not a place where he must report and answer difficult questions.”

The phrase “Ehud ran away” (“Ehud barach” in Hebrew, a pun on Barak's name) has been used for years by Barak's political rivals. It alludes to a training accident which occurred in his presence when he was IDF Chief of Staff. Other officers and soldiers who were present accused Barak of leaving the scene of the tragedy rather than staying on and helping the wounded.