The Knesset Ethics Committee discussed on Wednesday complaints against the conduct of MKs Jamal Zahalka (National Democratic Assembly), Ahmad Tibi (Ra`am-Ta`al-Mada) and Afou Agbaria (Hadash) during two stormy meetings of the Internal Affairs and Environment Committee on Jewish prayer at the Temple Mount and the establishment of Jewish communities in the Negev.
MK Miri Regev (Likud-Yisrael-Beitenu), who heads the Internal Affairs Committee, wrote in her complaint that ”even before I managed to start the meeting MK Tibi broke out with shouts, along with MKs Zahalka and Agbaria. The shouting was accompanied by slander and the use of rude expressions like `upstart,` `pyromaniac,` `you`re causing a third intifada,` and more.”
”It was clear that the Arab MKs who came to the discussion joined together to prevent the discussion,” Regev said.
MK Zvulun Kalfa (HaBayit HaYehudi) filed two complaints against Zahalka, in which he said that during both meetings he was ”verbally attacked” by his fellow MK. Zahalka, Kalfa said, called him a ”fascist,” ”racist,” ”settler” and ”occupier.” Kalfa further complained that Zahalka attempted to shove him but was prevented from doing so by ushers. ”Democracy and freedom of speech also have limits,” Kalfa wrote.
MK Orit Strock (HaBayit Hayehudi) also filed complaints against Tibi and Zahalka. She wrote that Tibi ”spoke against me disparagingly while shouting, and hurled serious statements at me that do not belong in the Israeli Knesset.” Those statements included ”you are a lowly settler” and ”Arafat`s shoe is worth ten like you.”
MK Zahalka told the Ethics Committee that his statements were made ”in the framework of freedom of speech and were said many times from the Knesset podium.” He denied trying to shove MK Kalfa and said footage of the meeting supports his claim.
MK Tibi responded to Regev`s complaint by saying that the meeting in question was ”sensitive” and ”touched on the proposal to divide the prayer times at Al Aqsa Mosque while changing the status quo.” Tibi said his remark that MK Regev was ”causing a third intifada” was meant to ”warn of the catastrophic consequences of the proposal discussed during the meeting.”
After reviewing the minutes from the meetings and watching footage from the first meeting, the Ethics Committee remarked that MK Tibi`s and Zahalka`s conduct violated the Knesset`s ethical guidelines and dishonored the parliament and its members.
”This kind of hooliganism, whose goal is to prevent a legitimate discussion in the Knesset, is not acceptable. These are not sharp political expressions, but rather an attempt to prevent discussion through rude behavior,” the committee said.
The Ethics Committee warned MKs Tibi and Zahalka that they will be subject to severe measures should they repeat this behavior.
The Ethics Committee dismissed the complaint against MK Agbaria.