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Israel: Not One Israeli Opposition Member Stood in Solidarity while Arab colleagues were dragged out of Knesset

Wednesday 24 January 2018, by siawi3



Not One Israeli Opposition Member Stood in Solidarity

The opposition’s failure to protest when members of the Arab parties’ Joint List were removed from the Knesset proves only the Arab MKs truly oppose the occupation and seek peace

Haaretz Editorial

Jan 24, 2018 5:44 AM

Photo: Haneen Zoabi being escorted from the Knesset during U.S. Vice President Mike Pence’s speech, January 22, 2018.Yitzhak Harari / Knesset

Removal of Arab lawmakers during Pence’s speech: A sad moment for Israeli democracy
With Pence visiting, it took 10 seconds and the Knesset was empty of Arabs
Israeli ministers vilify Arab lawmakers over Pence Knesset protest

If members of the opposition want to know why they fail time and again in their efforts to pose an alternative to the Netanyahu government, they should pause for a moment over their decision to stand on the sidelines when the Arab Knesset members were removed from the hall during U.S. Vice President Mike Pence’s speech.

Instead of conducting public opinion polls, organizing focus groups and spending huge sums on advice from seasoned political strategists to break the code of their electoral failure, the opposition parties should ask themselves why they remained silent when the Knesset decided to remove members of the Arab parties’ Joint List just because they dared violate the legislature’s bylaws by carrying protest signs into the hall with the slogan “Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine.” A simple inquiry would reveal the deep dark secret, the sought-after explanation for the peace camp’s political powerlessness: If this is how the opposition behaves, then what’s wrong with Benjamin Netanyahu?

The opposition MKs’ thunderous silence harmonized perfectly with the loud applause by senior ministers in the most right-wing and dangerous cabinet in Israel’s history – applause that accompanied the unprecedented removal of an entire party from the hall. It also fit nicely with the wild incitement against Arab MKs voiced at the end of the session by, among others, ministers Zeev Elkin and Avigdor Lieberman, who called them traitors and accused them of representing terrorist organizations.

VIDEO ici: Arab Israeli lawmakers escorted out of Pence speech - Haaretz

It was actually President Reuven Rivlin who, with his own applause, mapped out the boundaries of Israeli nonpartisanship – a nonpartisanship that, when put to democratic tests, has been revealed time after time to be nothing but a synonym for the Jewish common denominator shared by both political camps. This common denominator is too narrow to include Israel’s Arab citizens.

Joint List Chairman Ayman Odeh said he was proud “to lead the Joint List in voicing a strong and legitimate protest against the Trump-Netanyahu regime – against the extreme right that glorifies racism and hate and that, while paying lip service to peace, does everything in its power to distance peace.” He stressed that the protest in the Knesset came in the name of all Israelis who oppose the occupation and dream of peace.

Odeh is right. The only ones who faithfully represented opponents of the occupation, seekers of peace and lovers of Israeli democracy on Tuesday were the members of the Joint List. All the other opposition members, by their spontaneous apathy, proved that their leader is none other than Netanyahu, and that they deserve their marginal role in the nationalist puppet theater that the prime minister manages.



Palestinian legislators are ‘dragged out’ of Knesset as Pence promises embassy will move in 2019

Written by Philip Weiss

Published on: January 23, 2018

As Vice President Mike Pence began his speech to the Israeli Knesset this morning, Palestinian lawmakers protested the Trump administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, waving posters that said, “Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine.” They were forcibly removed from the chamber– reportedly all 13 members of the Joint List– as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stood to cheer their removal.

Mike Pence and Benjamin Netanyahu, on an earlier occasion.

Head of the Joint List Aymen Odeh said on social media the action was a “legitimate protest, against the Trump-Netanyahu regime’s exaltation of racism and hatred, who speak of peace solely as lip service.”

Video here

The astonishing moment caused Andrea Mitchell, NBC diplomatic correspondent, to remark on the discrimination of Israeli democracy: “Can you imagine Capitol Police dragging members of the congressional black caucus off the House floor?”

Pence went on to speak to an all-Jewish legislature and vowed that the Trump administration will move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by the end of 2019. The move is not a blow to peace, Pence said. “We have chosen fact over fiction, and fact is the only basis of a lasting peace,” he said. The decision does not affect “final status issues” in peace negotiations, or affect the ultimate boundaries of the capital, not does it preclude the creation of a Palestinian state, Pence said; and he called on Palestinians to return to the bargaining table.

“If both sides agree, the United States will support a two state solution,” Pence said. Netanyahu did not applaud this statement, though he continually applauded other statements by the vice president.

Palestinians hold posters bearing portraits of US Vice President Mike Pence during a protest at the Manger Square in the town of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank, on January 21, 2018. (Photo by Wisam Hashlamoun/ APA Images)

In a religiously-themed speech aligning the United States closely with the Zionist project of bringing Jews to a national home in Israel, Pence drew standing ovations for his fiery comments about Iran. He seemed to threaten regime change when he offered a message from the American people to the “people of Iran: we are your friends, and the day is coming when you will free from the evil regime that suffocates your dreams and buries your hopes.”

He also said that the Iran nuclear deal is a “disaster” that has allowed Iran to continue to develop nuclear weapons. The U.S. will no longer certify that deal and will soon act to resume sanctions on Iran, unless the deal is “fixed.”

Coupled with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s refusal to meet with Pence, and Abbas’s speech to a friendly European Union gathering in Brussels today, Pence’s speech marks a new moment in U.S. middle east policy in which it is openly aligned with Israel in defiance of world opinion. While Pence referenced earlier meetings on his trip with “great” U.S. allies King Abdullah in Jordan and Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Egypt, King Abdullah told him that Jerusalem must also be the Palestinian capital, and Palestinian leaders do not regard the U.S. as an honest broker for negotiations, ending a 25-year period of peace processing in which they have accepted the U.S. role, even if those negotiations have done nothing to end the occupation or deliver a Palestinian state.

Those goals seemed more distant than ever. Pence made no reference to Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem, let alone to the occupation. He referenced the bible and said American presidents going back to Washington and Lincoln had supported Zionist aspirations of Jewish return to Jerusalem. He was applauded by U.S. ambassador David Friedman, who is himself a settler advocate.

For his part Netanyahu gave a speech in which he called Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital “one of the most momentous decisions in the history of Zionism.”

Diana Buttu, a Palestinian lawyer and negotiator, condemned the tone and substance of Pence’s appearance in comments distributed by the Institute for Middle East Understanding:

“Pence is a dangerous religious fanatic who supports Israel unconditionally because of his Christian Zionist ideology. His visit to Israel is effectively a victory lap for promoting international disorder and religious extremism. Moreover, his scheduled visit to holy sites in occupied Palestinian East Jerusalem is a major provocation, particularly so soon after Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
“In the wake of Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as part of Israel, in violation of international law and seven decades of official US policy, and after Israel killed more than 16 Palestinians in protests that ensued, Pence is sending Israel the message that it will be rewarded for its decades of illegal behavior.”

In Haaretz, Sam Bahour writes that Pence has confirmed that the U.S. is out of the peace process.

He … repeated, mantra-like, the claim that the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was justified as “fact”. The word “Palestinian” was barely mentioned, and “Palestine” – not at all.
Pence also said the U.S. would support a two-state solution, but only if both sides support it – echoing Trump’s comments at his Jerusalem announcement. The meaning? The U.S. is abandoning the two-state solution. A sovereign Palestinian state is no longer a necessary and critical aim of U.S. foreign policy.
Donald Trump, it appears, will do nothing to stop or rebuke Israel’s accelerated settlement building…