Israeli lawmaker accused of ‘hating Israel’ by colleague

Likud MK Miri Regev’s accusation came in response to a report that Ben-Barak’s assistant had met with terrorist supporters on Temple Mount.

By Donna Rachel Edmunds, World Israel News. 

Likud MK Miri Regev has doubled down on accusations that MK Ram Ben-Barak hates Israel, following his decision not to fire an assistant who was photographed on the Temple Mount last week with a well-known supporter of Palestinian terrorism.

The two came to blows in the Knesset last week during a debate on the Cultural Loyalty Law when Yesh Atid MK Ben-Barak interrupted a speech by Regev. She shot back: “You be silent, you generally hate Israel.”

As an outcry erupted in the Knesset, Regev asked her critics: “Do you think it makes sense for a man who deals with national security issues to employ a woman who supports terrorism, who is by his side in discussions, meetings, near his post office and telephone diary? Someone here has gone mad in this country!”

Her comments were in response to a report that an assistant to Ben-Barak had been photographed with Ekrima Sa’id Sabri, a former grand mufti of Jerusalem who has expressed support for terrorism, including suicide bombings.

The assistant, Linir Abu Hazaz, was suspended pending investigation by Ben-Barak, who chairs the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and was out of the country when the news broke.

On Saturday night, Ben-Barak told Channel 12 that Abu Hazaz had been reinstated following that investigation.

“My assistant, a religious Muslim who prays at the Al-Aqsa Mosque sometimes, was doing a course to be a guide at the mosque. At the end of the course, various people there met with them, and she was photographed with one of them,” Ben-Barak said.

“I investigated it, including speaking with the Knesset Guard and with Shin Bet personnel, and I decided to bring her back to work.” He added: “The mistake is that I did not know about it in advance, and I think she was wrong in her judgment.”

But Regev was not satisfied. Speaking to KAN Reshet Bet, she said: “What would you call a person who is chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and employs as an assistant someone who meets with sheiks who incite and support terrorism?”

In a separate statement Regev added that Ben-Barak must “immediately fire this dangerous aide before anything bad happens. We can’t let her be exposed to security information that endangers IDF soldiers in the morning and then drink coffee with supporters of terrorism and martyrs in the evening.”

The spat has rippled through the Knesset, with members taking sides on the matter.

Likud MK Avi Dichter leapt to Ben-Barak’s defense, telling Kan Reshet Bet: “Miri is too intelligent to make such statements. I have known Ram Ben Barak for over 40 years – both as a soldier in the Sayeret Matkal and then I accompanied him from a distance, both in the Matkal and in the Mossad – to say about him ‘hates Israel’ is shameful.”

But MK Itamar Ben Gvir from the Religious Zionism party said in a statement that Ben-Barak’s decision to reinstate his aide “harms state security.”

“Bringing someone into the Knesset who has had ties with terrorists is a misstep that could have a high price, and we may have already paid for it,” he added.