Two lawmakers from the coalition and opposition are set to host an event in the Knesset on Tuesday titled “After 54 years: From Occupation to Apartheid.”
The event is to be hosted by MK Aida Touma-Sliman of the opposition Joint List and MK Mossi Raz of Meretz, a party that is a member of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s government.
Raz’s involvement is sure to raise hackles within the coalition, which was formed under the understanding that its rightist and leftist parties would avoid contentious issues in order not to rock the boat.
Amichai Chikli, a rebel MK from Bennett’s Yamina party, labeled the event “a disgrace” and on Monday sent a letter asking the Knesset’s legal adviser and events department to prevent the participation of organizations he said were working against Israel in the international arena.
“This is a serious act of political sabotage and it is unbearable that it should take place within the walls of the Knesset,” Chikli said.
According to Chikli, organizations expected to participate in the event include left-wing rights groups B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence.
However, Chikli said that he was most concerned about the involvement of Human Rights Watch, one of the world’s best-known rights groups, saying that the organization works for the delegitimization of Israel and should not be permitted to participate.
A flyer advertising the conference did not list the potential speakers.
Earlier this year HRW said that Israel was guilty of the crimes of apartheid and persecution because of discriminatory policies toward Palestinians within its own borders and in the Palestinian territories. Israel rejected the accusations.
Chikli said that the event was set to be addressed by Omar Shakir, the New York-based rights group’s director for Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, who was expelled from Israel in 2019 after a lengthy court battle when the country accused him of supporting boycotts of the Jewish state.
Authorities said at the time that Shakir’s expulsion was the first from inside Israel under a 2017 law allowing the deportation of foreigners who support a boycott. The move was condemned by international bodies, with the UN warning of a “shrinking space for human rights defenders to operate” in Israel and the Palestinian territories.