Moving towards a Jewish-only Knesset

Israeli Knesset Member Danny Danon and other right wing members of the Israeli parliament are demanding that MK Ahmad Tibi be ousted from the government due to the speech he gave in January, on Palestinian Martyrs’ Day; a new bill threatens to ban Palestinian citizens of the state from the Israeli Knesset.
Speaking last month at a memorial event for Palestinian Martyrs’ Day, which the Palestinian National Liberation Movement has marked since 1965, MK Tibi said that a “martyr is one who breaks through and draws with blood the journey to freedom and liberation.” Tibi also condemned Israeli ignorance for calling Palestinians martyrs “terrorists.”
Tibi’s speech was translated to Hebrew and English by Palestinian Media Watch, a rightwing Israeli organization led by Itamar Marcus, a resident of the illegal Efrat settlement. Marcus was a consultant for the film “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West”, an Islamophobic film that portrays Islam as the new evil rising against Western civilization.
According to Marcus, who added interpretations to Tibi’s speech, the term “martyr” indicates a person who had died for the sake of Allah while the Palestinian Authority uses this term to describe “terrorists” who were killed while attacking Israel. Marcus also claimed that, for Tibi, there is no difference between terrorists and civilians.
Palestinians define all who die in the context of the Palestinian struggle of liberation—whether they be combatants, demonstrators, or bystanders—as martyrs. The last decade has seen a large number of Palestinian casualties due to Israeli attacks and repression.
According to the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, Israeli forces and settlers killed 6508 Palestinians from September 29, 2000 through December 31, 2011, including the 1,449 Palestinians killed by the Israeli Army during Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip.
Another 50 Palestinians were killed by Israeli civilians during the same 10 year period.
The Israeli government and right wing organizations attempts to criminalize the memory of those Israel has killed, presenting them as terrorists.
After MK Tibi’s recent speech, deputy Knesset speaker MK Danny Danon (Likud) informed the press that he will submit a new bill that will provide a parliamentary majority to oust members of the Knesset. According to Danon’s proposed bill a majority vote of 80 MKs will strip a serving MK of his parliamentary status.
Danon explains that his proposition is a response to Tibi’s declarations. “Tibi is a traitor, and his statements incite to terrorism,” Danon told Arutz 7. He added that Tibi has to be “removed from the Knesset and immediately put in jail.”
Danon’s proposed bill another in a series of legislation that require Palestinian citizens to prove loyalty to Israel and that depict Palestinians as potential threats to state security.
A bill proposed by MK Moshe Matalon (Israeli Beitenu) attempts to bar Palestinian citizens from parliament on the grounds that they don’t serve in the Israeli military. If the legislation passes, only Israelis who been in the army, or who have done a recognized alternative national service, will be allowed to run for the Knesset. As Palestinian citizens of the state are not obligated to serve in the military, and very few volunteer to do so, the bill is a clear attempt to discriminate against Israel’s Arab minority and bar them from the government.
After submitting the bill, MK Matalon explained that “serving the state and taking part in national burdens are part of the Israeli ethos. It is not possible that in the Israeli parliament will be representatives who did not serve their country. Knesset members are supposed to be a model and example for the Israeli state and society.”

This report was published by the Alternative Information Center (AIC) with contributions from Mya Guarnieri.

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