MK suspended for calling ex-Shin Bet head a murderer

MK suspended for calling ex-Shin Bet head a murderer

Joint List lawmaker Jamal Zahalka will be barred from debates for a month at the start of the fall session, but can still vote, after comment directed at Likud MK Avi Dichter

Joint (Arab) List MK Jamal Zahalka speaks during a plenum session in the assembly hall of the Israeli parliament, February 8, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Joint (Arab) List MK Jamal Zahalka speaks during a plenum session in the assembly hall of the Israeli parliament, February 8, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Knesset member Jamal Zahalka of the Joint (Arab) List faction was suspended on Wednesday for calling ex-Shin Bet head and Likud MK Avi Dichter a murderer during a debate on a law regarding the Palestinian Authority’s payment of salaries to terrorists.

The month-long suspension handed down by the Knesset Ethics Committee will go into effect at the start of the next Knesset session in the fall, and will cover committee and plenum debates, but Zahalka will retain his right to vote, Hadashot news reported.

Zahalka called Dichter, a co-sponsor of the legislation, a murderer in the course of a debate on the law in July. According to the legislation, Israel, which collects duties on goods bound for the Palestinian Authority, will withhold sums equivalent to what he PA pays out to convicted terrorists and the families of Palestinians killed while carrying out attacks.

“I have no words to describe how low this law is and how baseless are the arguments cited by the initiator of the law, Avi Dichter, the former head of the Shin Bet, who is responsible for the murder of thousands of people and who claims to be fighting terrorism,” charged Zahalka from the podium.

He added: “You are murderers, you are terrorists, you are thieves, you are the oppressors, the expelled and the hypocrites. You murdered 527 children in 2014 in Operation Protective Edge.”

Likud MK Avi Dichter chairs a Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting on on April 30, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

There are conflicting tallies of the number of people killed in Gaza during the 2014 military operation.

“Who is the terrorist here?” asked Zahalka. “He who listens to classical music, reads Kafka as if he is cultured, and pushes the button on an airplane that kills 100 innocent people.”

Dichter responded to the suspension, saying that “after the traitor Azmi Bishara fled to Qatar to escape detention, and the terrorist MK Bassel Ghattas who was put in jail, it was Jamal Zahalka’s turn.”

Bishara has been charged in absentia with spying for the Lebanese Hezbollah terror group, while Ghattas was forced to step down as a Knesset member after it emerged that he had smuggled contraband cellphones to Palestinian security prisoners.

Both were members of Zahalka’s Balad, one of four parties that make up the Joint List.

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