A Knesset session turned heated Wednesday after Deputy Internal Affairs Minister Yaron Mazuz (Likud) called on Arab lawmakers to return their Israeli identity cards.
Mazuz took the stand in the plenum to explain the government’s position, rejecting bills by MKs Aida Touma-Sliman (Joint Arab List) and Zehava Gal-On (Meretz) that would allow Palestinians married to Israelis to become citizens.
After being heckled by Joint Arab List MKs, Mazuz said to them: “We’re doing you a favor by letting you sit here. You should give back your [Israeli] ID cards.”
Addressing the Arab Joint List`s MK Hanin Zoabi, Mazuz said: ”Mrs. Zoabi, you are the first who ought to return your ID. We are doing you people a favor by even allowing you to be seated here – terrorists won`t be allowed to sit here. You people are in a democratic state, so respect the state. Whoever acts against the State of Israel using terror – has no right to be here. It`s unthinkable that from this abode, people will go out and participate in terror flotillas against the State of Israel.”
Amid the commotion that subsequently erupted, Meretz MK Michal Rozin walked up to Mazuz while he was still at the podium, waving her identity card at him and demanding he `revoke` it.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who took the stage after Mazuz, criticized what he called lawmakers` hypocrisy. ”I heard no condemnation from the men and women here of the war crimes being committed in Syria,” he said, addressing the members of the Arab Joint List.
”The citizens of Israel have the right and the obligation to obey the state`s laws, and do not have the right to blame the soldiers of the IDF who protect us all – Jews and non-Jews – as criminals of war,” said Netanyahu. He added that the state was defending freedom of expression, but reserved the right to condemn what he called hypocritical behavior. ”I`m talking about an issue of hypocrisy, and on your rights to say what`s on your mind. We are under no obligation to agree to this hypocrisy.”
MK Touma-Sliman said ”anyone who thought Netanyahu would defend our right to carry out our duty was apparently dreaming. The prime minister is justifying Mazuz`s incitement campaign against us. Our blood has been shed. Only a government built on wild incitement can enact a law that collectively takes away the Palestinians` right to a family life. No one is doing me a favor by giving me an ID.”
Meretz chairwoman MK Zehava Gal-On slammed Netanyahu for backing up Mazuz`s comments. ”You are the prime minister of us all,” she told him.
The Knesset voted against both bills.