Zahalka (right) in the Knesset
Zahalka (right) in the Knesset Flash 90

Member of Knesset Jamal Zahalka discussed how best to “take advantage” of Israel in a meeting over the weekend with a PA Arab reporter and a former PA politician. Zahalka spoke to Maan editor Nasser Lahham and former PA envoy to Egypt Nabil Amr on a TV talk show.

His main focus was on arguing why PA Arabs should not unilaterally declare a state – not because it would violate the Oslo accords and other treaties with Israel, but because, according to Zahalka, the move would be good for Israel.

If the PA were to declare a state, Israel could continue its presence in Judea and Samaria, but without taking the steps it currently takes to ensure PA Arabs' welfare, Zahalka warned. Israel currently helps the PA to collect taxes and provide water, allows tens of thousands of PA Arabs to work in Israel, provides care for PA Arabs in Israeli hospitals, and more.

The MK spoke of the PA's failure thus far to get Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to meet its demands. “We have been so far unable to truly size up Israel and take advantage of its world position,” he said, his words suggesting that he sees himself firmly in the PA camp.

Zahalka told his PA hosts that Netanyahu “desperately needs the talks to continue so he can counter international pressure.” Negotiations with Israel give Netanyahu legitimacy, he said.

Nabil Amr argued against a unilateral declaration of statehood as well, saying that doing so could give Israel justification to cancel the Oslo Accords, under which the PA was established.

Amr also called on Fatah to reunite with Hamas.

Zahalka is a member of the Balad party, which was nearly banned in the most recent Knesset elections over its support for terrorism and refusal to recognize the Jewish state of Israel. The former head of the party, Azmi Bishara, fled Israel in 2008 when it was revealed that he had passed information to Hizbullah during the Second Lebanon War.

He recently traveled to India to take part in a conference urging a boycott of Israel.