MK Jamal Zahalka
MK Jamal Zahalka Miriam Alster/Flash 90

An Israeli Arab Knesset member mocked the Israeli flag, Israeli national anthem, and other national symbols of the Jewish state Tuesday, saying that he identified as a “Palestinian” while deriding Israel as an “occupier” since its establishment in 1948.

Jamal Zahalka, a five-term veteran MK from the Arab ultra-nationalist Balad party, which became a faction within the predominantly Arab Joint List party ahead of the 2015 election, grew up in the Israeli-Arab town of Kafr Qara, near the city of Umm al-Fahm in the Wadi Ara region.

After aligning himself with the Palestine Liberation Organization as a teenager in the 1970s, Zahalka was jailed for two years, before going on to become a pharmacist.

An outspoken opponent of the Jewish state, Zahalka has used his seat in the Knesset since 2003 to attack Israel and promote the Palestinian Authority’s cause from within Israel’s parliament.

On Tuesday, Zahalka sat down with Channel 12 for an interview set to be released in full Tuesday night.

During the interview, Zahalka reiterated his rejection of the concept of “Israeli-Arabs”, describing himself as a “Palestinian with an Israeli identification card”.

Despite serving in Israel’s Knesset, Zahalka had no qualms about expressing his own personal distaste for the country’s flag and other national symbols.

“I would rather die than since the Israeli national anthem,” said Zahalka, claiming that Israel has ‘occupied’ Arab land since its establishment in 1948.

“Seventy years have passed, but Israel is still an occupier.”

“Let’s get rid of the [Israeli] flag, the national anthem, and the [other] symbols of the state, and then maybe you and I can come together.”

“That flag [the Israeli flag] is worse than a rag.”