Ben-Gvir wants revocation of parliamentary membership of Arab party leader 

Representatives of Palestinian citizens of Israel in the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, often face isolation and threats of expulsion for standing with their fellow Palestinians in the occupied territories

August 14, 2023 by Peoples Dispatch
(Photo: Ahmad Tibi/Twitter)

On Thursday, August 10, Israel’s National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir called for the withdrawal of parliamentary immunity to Ahmad Tibi, the leader of the Arab Ta’al party, part of the Arab Joint List in the Israeli parliament (Knesset). Ben-Gvir claimed that Tibi was inciting terrorism, Sputnik Arabic reported.  

Ben-Gvir reportedly spoke to the judicial advisor to the Israeli government, Gali Bharav Mayara, and alleged that Tibi’s “praise for gunmen in Jenin is documented.” 

He cited a video clip circulating on the internet in which Tibi is criticizing the Israeli occupation while addressing medical students. Tibi was heard saying that “the occupation’s tooth must be extracted from the root.”  

Tibi has been vocal against the Israeli occupation of Palestine and has criticized the Israeli army’s recent raids in Jenin in the occupied West Bank, in which at least 12 Palestinians were killed and over 100 others wounded.  

The raid, which went on for days, was one of the biggest carried out by the Israeli forces inside the occupied West Bank in recent times. Israeli forces deployed fighter jets, helicopters, and missiles during the raids, forcing hundreds of Palestinians to relocate temporarily. 

Another Arab member of the Israeli Knesset, Ayman Odeh, was stopped and forced to leave the podium while he was criticizing the Jenin raids in the parliament. He was then forced out of the Knesset.  

Arab members in the Israeli parliament represent the Arab minority in Israel (around 21% of the total Israeli population). Extremist forces in Israel have tried to scuttle their rights for long, arguing that Israel is a Jewish nation and Palestinians cannot live there. They have occasionally carried out threats of their expulsion from the parliament for standing with their fellow Palestinians in the occupied territories. 

Ben-Gvir promotes settler violence 

According to some reports, Ben-Gvir’s department prevented Tibi from visiting the family of a 19-year-old Palestinian boy, Qusai Jamal Mutan, who was killed by illegal settlers in the village of Burqa near Ramallah last week. 

The settlers came in a group from a nearby illegal settlement and attacked the residents of Burqa and torched their vehicles. When Palestinians resisted, they were fired upon. At least three Palestinians were injured including Mutan, who died later in a hospital. 

Two of the accused are members of Ben-Gvir’s political formation. He has refused to criticize their actions and instead praised the settlers, calling them “heroes.” He also allowed Israeli right-wing leaders to go and meet the settlers involved in the murder.  

Tibi, reacting to being prevented from visiting Mutan’s family, called Ben-Gvir a racist and asserted that this was one more reason that Israel’s claims of being a democracy were increasingly in question. He told Ynet that “two types of Knesset members were created: Jews with immunity and rights and Arab members without them.”   

Violence by illegal settlers inside the occupied territories has increased since the coming of the new ultra right-wing government which is backed by some extremist settler leaders such as Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, Israel’s minister of finance and settlements. Meanwhile, settlers have been attacking Palestinian villages and towns under protection provided by the Israeli security forces.