Jamal Zahalka
Jamal ZahalkaYonatan Sindel/Flash 90

MK Jamal Zahalka (Joint List) was unfazed on Tuesday after MK Oded Forer and the Yisrael Beytenu party filed a petition demanding that he be questioned for his statements on the Israeli flag, the national anthem and the 2017 incident in the Bedouin town of Umm al-Hiran.

"This is a provocative petition and is part of the campaign of [Defense Minister Avigdor] Liberman and his party against the Arab public and its leaders, the main goal of which is to achieve cheap popularity by inciting against Arabs and Arab leaders," Zahalka said.

"I stand by my words on the flag and the anthem, which do not represent us and which represent exclusion and infringement of human and civil rights," he stressed. "Serious crimes were committed against the Palestinian people under the Israeli flag, including the expulsion, killing and robbery of land and property."

The Yisrael Beytenu petition was based in part on comments made by Zahalka in a television interview last December. At the time he declared that he "prefers to die than to sing the Israeli anthem," and that the Israeli flag was "worse than a rag." In addition, the petition noted that Zahalka told the residents of Umm Al-Hiran in 2015 that "if blood is to be shed, so be it."

"The petition is full of distortions and distorted interpretations,” he claimed on Tuesday. “It is important to stress that I have never called for violence, and have always called for a nonviolent struggle. We are the victims of violence and will not surrender to it. Even harsh violence by the police will not deter us, and even bloodshed, like the killing of Yaqub Abu Al-Qian, will not stop our struggle, and we will continue to defend our land, our existence and our rights. "

Zahalka claimed that the Yisrael Beytenu petition is a provocation and added, "If a political personality is to be made accountable for his statements, then the first candidate is Avigdor Liberman, who continues his racist incitement against the Arab public and incitement to violence against Palestinians wherever they may be."

"This is a petition by a fascist party against freedom of expression and in favor of restricting the right to political activity," he charged.

Liberman on Monday called for the outlawing of Joint List leader Ayman Odeh and also blasted Zahalka for his anti-Israel remarks.

"This is the same Ayman Odeh who not only cursed the policemen and screamed at them. This is the same Ayman Odeh who did not go to the funeral of President Shimon Peres, but he made time to go to a memorial for Arafat that week. This is the same Ayman Odeh who refused to sign a surplus agreement with Meretz because it is a 'Zionist' party. This is same person who smuggled cell phones to a security prisoner in a prison cell, including Jamal Zahalka. This is the same man who said that as far as he was concerned, the Israeli flag was a floor rag and that he would rather die before he sang the Israeli national anthem," said Liberman.

Despite being members of the Israeli parliament, Arab MKs have continuously acted against the interests of the state.

In one incident, three Joint List MKs visited with families of terrorists who murdered Israelis and later defended their actions.

Other examples have included Arab MKs openly defying an order from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu not to visit the Temple Mount, while also urging Arabs to prevent Jews from visiting the site.

Liberman has been highly critical of the Arab MKs for their anti-Israel actions. In December, he blasted Arab MKs as "war criminals" during a Knesset debate on a motion of no confidence in the government filed by the Joint List.

"All the Joint List are war criminals, every one of you. You exploit the weaknesses and advantages of a democratic state to destroy us from within, we have no illusions," he told the Arab MKs.

"You are here by mistake and the time will come when you will not be here," added Liberman.