Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday evening asked Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit to explore the legal steps that could be taken against three Arab MKs who held a meeting with the relatives of terrorists killed carrying out attacks on Israelis.
Netanyahu and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said Thursday that they were jointly lodging an unprecedented complaint to the Knesset’s Ethics Committee against the three, saying the meeting constituted incitement and “encouragement to murder.”
In a statement Thursday, Netanyahu said the MKs were “not worthy to serve” in the Knesset.
“Members of Knesset who go to comfort the families of terrorists who murdered Israelis do not deserve to be in the Israeli Knesset,” he said.
During Tuesday’s meeting, the terrorists’ relatives asked Joint (Arab) List lawmakers Hanin Zoabi, Jamal Zahalka and Basel Ghattas to help them pressure the government to release their bodies for burial.
Israel has employed a policy of delaying the return of bodies of Palestinians killed while carrying out attacks on Israelis, in an effort to prevent their funerals from becoming a source of further incitement to violence.
The MKs met with the father of Baha Alian, a Palestinian who was part of a two-man team that killed Israelis Haim Haviv, Alon Govberg and Richard Lakin in Jerusalem in October, and with relatives of other terrorists.
The three lawmakers defended the meeting on Friday, with Zahalka calling terrorists who killed Israelis “victims of the occupation.” Ghattas, for his part, described them as “martyrs,” while Zoabi wrote in Arabic on Facebook: “We are defending national and human dignity. It is our duty and our right. The real crime is holding onto bodies. It is our duty to do our utmost to get the bodies released.”
The meeting was roundly condemned by lawmakers from across the political spectrum.
Centrist Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid said it was “unthinkable” that elected Israeli lawmakers would “pay respects” to terrorists, and said the meeting constituted encouragement for terrorism.
Left-wing Meretz MK Ilan Gilon said the three Arab MKs had “crossed all borders” in holding the meeting.