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Yesh Atid lawmaker heckles Joint List MK, he repeatedly calls her ‘human scum’

Knesset furor erupts after Merav Ben-Ari protests Ahmad Tibi’s comments about Temple Mount, while he lashes her for saying she doesn’t regret death of Al Jazeera reporter

Joint List MK Ahmad Tibi at the Knesset, May 18, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/FLASH90)
Joint List MK Ahmad Tibi at the Knesset, May 18, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/FLASH90)

Two lawmakers on Wednesday engaged in a vicious shouting match in the Knesset plenum, with MK Ahmad Tibi calling a female colleague “human scum.”

The confrontation began after Yesh Atid MK Merav Ben-Ari interrupted the Joint List lawmaker during his address regarding the ongoing tensions on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, in which he faulted the police for actions taken against rioters at the holy site.

It was not clear what Ben-Ari initially called out, but she appeared to be protesting Tibi’s claims. Tibi then turned to Ben-Ari and said he “will not forgive” her for saying that she did not regret the death of Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh.

When Ben-Ari responded that she did not need his forgiveness, Tibi called her “human scum.”

Abu Akleh, a Palestinian-American 25-year veteran of the Al Jazeera satellite channel, was killed last Wednesday during a gunbattle between IDF troops and Palestinian gunmen while covering an Israeli military raid in the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank.

The Palestinians insist that she was killed by army fire, while Israel has said there is not yet conclusive evidence that would determine whether she was shot by IDF soldiers or by Palestinian gunmen. The Palestinian Authority has refused to cooperate with an Israeli investigation into the matter.

While on a panel with reporters and other politicians on Channel 12’s “Meet the Press” last week, Ben-Ari said that events surrounding Abu Akleh “have been blown out of proportion,” adding that she does not regret Abu Akleh’s death, but rather that of Noam Raz, a counterterrorism officer who was killed during a raid in Jenin.

In the Knesset on Wednesday, Tibi called Ben-Ari “human scum” several times, escalating the fight as Ben-Ari and other lawmakers present at the plenum shouted in protest.

In response to the commotion, Knesset Deputy Speaker MK Evgeny Sova, who chaired the debate, removed Tibi from the rostrum.

MK Merav Ben-Ari at a conference at the International Convention Center in Jerusalem, February 21, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Walking up to the podium, Ben-Ari said: “What is this behavior?”

She recalled a similar incident with fellow Joint List MK Ofer Cassif earlier this year, in which he told her to “stop shouting like a hen.”

“Did I ever curse at any of you? Did I ever speak to you with contempt? Never. Enough already, respect this place,” Ben-Ari said.

She came down from the podium in tears and was embraced by other lawmakers.

“The things that were said toward MK Ben-Ari should not be said in the Knesset of Israel,” Sova said shortly after.

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