ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 145

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Ex-Shin Bet chief says top Arab MK supports terrorists

Avi Dichter’s comment follows Ayman Odeh’s accusation last month that the Likud MK had ordered the killing of Yasser Arafat

Dov Lieber is a former Times of Israel Arab affairs correspondent.

Likud parliament member Avi Dichter attends a Knesset discussion on November 19, 2015. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
Likud parliament member Avi Dichter attends a Knesset discussion on November 19, 2015. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

Former Shin Bet chief MK Avi Dichter (Likud) accused the Joint (Arab) List leader MK Ayman Odeh on Monday of doing nothing to stop terror against Israelis.

Dichter’s charge came during a discussion in the Knesset plenum, and followed Odeh’s claim last month that Dichter ordered the killing of PLO chief Yasser Arafat.

Arafat passed away in 2004, age 75, and many Palestinians claimed Israel poisoned him, an allegation dismissed by Israel.

In an interview last month on Channel 2, Odeh also accused Dichter of ordering the killings of Hamas cofounders Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and Abdel Aziz al-Rantisi while he served as director of the security agency.

“How is it possible that your lips did not tremble as you accused me and other MKs of murdering arch-murderers like Rantisi? What have you done and what are you doing today to prevent terror? Nothing,” said Dichter to Odeh on Monday.

“The day will come,” continued Dichter, “when you will be greeted at the gates of heaven by Sheikh Yassin and Rantisi. You have passed their test for acceptance. With them, you are considered a righteous man, and by you they are deemed righteous.”

File: Leader of the Joint Arab list, Ayman Odeh leads the weekly Joint Arab list meeting at the Knesset, Israel's parliament in Jerusalem, October 12, 2015. (Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90)
File: Leader of the Joint Arab list, Ayman Odeh leads the weekly Joint Arab list meeting at the Knesset, Israel’s parliament in Jerusalem, October 12, 2015. (Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Odeh responded by accusing Dichter of pandering to the cameras.

“It seems that Dichter has been under great pressure and a bit desperate to grab some headlines, and therefore, he chose to use such low and cheap incitement,” Odeh said.

“We will continue to advance a politics of teamwork, which looks after the good of all citizens, in the face of the current government’s politics of hate and malice,” he added.

The Joint List leader’s initial comments last month followed a stormy Knesset debate surrounding a law that would allow a majority of MKs to vote to suspend fellow lawmakers deemed to be abetting terrorism. The bill passed its first of three required votes on Monday night.

In the Channel 2 interview following the debate last month, Odeh said Dichter was allowed to serve as a lawmaker despite having ordered the murder of Palestinian leaders.

“There are Shin Bet heads who gave orders to murder the leaders of the Palestinian people — people who are in the coalition…. For example, [Avi] Dichter sent people who murdered Arafat, and [Hamas cofounders] Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, and Rantisi, and he is in the Knesset. People who sent people to murder people are members of Knesset,” he said.

Arafat died in Percy military hospital near Paris in November 2004, having flown there in a French military jet after complaining of stomach pains while at his headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah. French investigators last April announced they had not found evidence he had been poisoned, and a French prosecutor subsequently closed the case.

Israel killed Hamas leaders Yassin and al-Rantisi in Gaza air raids in early 2004.

Dichter hit back on his Facebook page at Odeh’s accusations last month, writing that he was “proud to have had the privilege” of helping to send Yassin and Rantisi “deep into the earth” within a month of each other.

The Knesset Ethics Committee last week reprimanded Odeh for his remarks against the former Shin Bet chief, but stopped short of leveling any penalty against the lawmaker.

Marissa Newman contributed to this report

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