Arab MK removed from Knesset after assailing UAE officials

MK Avi Dichter, a former Shin Bet head who speaks fluent Arabic, called Shihadeh to order three times before having him removed.


Member of Knesset (MK) Mtanes Shihadeh of the Arab-majority Joint List was removed from an online meeting of the Israeli Citizens’ Fund on Tuesday after he verbally assaulted two representatives of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) who took part in the session.

During the meeting, chaired by MK Avi Dichter, which focused on examining investment opportunities and managing wealth funds around the world, Shihadeh turned to the Secretary-General of the UAE International Investors Council Jamal Saif Al Jarwan and to Abdulla Al Saleh, Undersecretary for Foreign Trade and Industry in the UAE’s Ministry of Economy, and said:

“Do you understand what you have to do, or do you not understand this whole discussion about the normalization of relations? I suppose there could be a lot of problems, but it is clear that standards of morality also play a role in the world. Even if there are economic consequences on a certain level, you know it’s problematic. Are you not ashamed?”

Dichter, a former Shin Bet head who speaks fluent Arabic, called Shihadeh to order three times before having him removed from the meeting.

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Dichter then apologized to Al Jarwan and Al Saleh for the incident. “We are in a momentum of the Abraham Accords in the entire region. There are bodies, such as the Palestinian Authority, which refuse to understand that things are changing, and we are talking about peace, not business. Business comes after peace,” he said.

Speaking of the Joint List, he said it “is one party in our parliament that voted against the Abraham Accords. They refuse to recognize that this is a new Middle East.”

“I want to tell you Kol Hakavod (job well done), because I know that it is not easy listening to a Member of Knesset, one of 120, insult you for signing an agreement with Israel, which he himself represents, but that is part of democracy, and I am trying to protect it here and explain to him that it is impossible to go on like this,. But he came here to provoke, not to listen, so I had no choice,” Dichter explained.

He apologized again for the incident and said that “we are very glad to see you both, and I hope we will be able to see you again soon. It would be a pleasure to see you here with us. I appreciate your time, and I wish you the best.”

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Following the meeting, Dichter called Shihadeh’s remarks “disrespectful” and praised the officials for continuing the discussion.

“The fact that they stayed shows that they are professionals who know what they are doing and who and what they represent. In my opinion, that is the more important thing,” he said.

During the meeting, Dichter spoke with the UAE officials in Arabic.