Knesset members from the Joint (Arab) List met this week with relatives of Palestinian terrorists killed by Israeli security forces as they were carrying out attacks, including some who had killed Israelis.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blasted the Knesset members on Thursday evening, saying they were “unworthy of serving” as lawmakers.
An organization representing the families of Palestinian “martyrs” invited all lawmakers from the Joint (Arab) List, which comprises three parties, to meet in Jerusalem. Three MKs — Hanin Zoabi, Jamal Zahalka and Basel Ghattas — showed up at the meeting Tuesday, all members of Balad, an Arab nationalist party whose members have identified with Palestinian violence in the past.
Some Israeli reports said that the meeting began with a moment of silence for the “martyrs.”
The father of Baha Alian, who along with Bilal Ranem killed three Israelis in an attack on a bus in Jerusalem in October, was among the Palestinians who attended the meeting, which he described as “warm and productive.”
Referring to the Israeli lawmakers as “Palestinian brothers,” he said “they listened to the suffering and pain of the martyr families whose bodies are held by Israel.”
The focus of the meeting was the relatives’ request that the Arab MKs pressure relevant Israeli authorities to return the remains of their loved ones.
“They emphasized that they would make every effort to return the bodies by pressuring the government and Knesset and by keeping in contact with diplomatic and security officials in the Israeli government. We agreed to meet again soon in order to follow up on this issue,” the father said.
Netanyahu and other Israeli politicians blasted their Joint (Arab) List Knesset colleagues.
“MKs going to console families of terrorists who murdered Israelis are not worthy of serving in the Knesset,” Netanyahu said in a statement. “I turned this evening to the Knesset speaker to examine what measures can be used against them.”
Zionist Union, the largest faction in the opposition, criticized the meeting and said in a statement that the “visit by Balad MKs with families of terrorists encourages more terrorism and killing of innocents.”
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely of Likud said that “Arab MKs don’t missing an opportunity to support terrorism. They harm first and foremost their own public, and represent nothing and promote nothing besides supporting terrorism and actively working against the State of Israel. The Arab public is the first that should come out against its representatives who act as agents of terrorism and not as its representatives in the Knesset.”
A spokeswoman for Balad said the MKs met the families due to their request for help releasing the bodies for burial. The request by the families was relayed to the Public Security Ministry, the spokeswoman said.
On Wednesday, just hours after three Palestinians killed an Israeli Border Police cadet and injured a second in Jerusalem, Abbas hosted families of terrorists involved in attacks in the capital. A day later, Abbas’s Fatah movement praised the three Palestinians who killed the cadet, Hadar Cohen, 19, according to Palestinian Media Watch, a group that monitors Palestinian media.
The father of one of the attackers said he was happy to hear that his son had died while carrying out the attack.
“We received the news with joy, a martyr, our Lord chose him from among the people to be a martyr, Allah will pardon him, and we hope he will be among the people of paradise, Allah willing,” he said, according to a PMW translation.