Knesset member calls for ouster of Arab Joint List head who attended meeting with Hamas

Knesset member Smotrich called for the impeachment of Odeh over his meeting last week in Ramallah with Hamas and Fatah.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Knesset member Bezalel Smotrich of the right-wing Yemina party wants the Knesset to oust Arab Joint List leader Ayman Odeh.

“According to the law MK Odeh is not suitable to serve as a Knesset Member and therefore his ouster is required,” Smotrich said.

“Attendance by MK Odeh at a conference in which explicit statements were made in support of terrorist activity against the State of Israel and terrorist supporters from the Palestinian Authority and Hamas are not something the Knesset can allow on its agenda,” he said.

Smotrich petitioned Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin to impeach Odeh.

Odeh came under heavy fire Monday over his trip to Ramallah last week where he expressed his solidarity with Hamas and Fatah officials who threatened an armed uprising if Israel went ahead with plans to impose sovereignty on settlements in Judea and Samaria.

Odeh received support from veteran Arab Haaretz columnist Odeh Bisharat, who slammed critics for accusing Odeh of supporting terrorism.

“Ayman Odeh went to Ramallah empty-handed. He didn’t give Hamas even a measly dollar, and nevertheless politicians and media outlets have been calling him a supporter of terrorism,” Bisharat wrote. “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has permitted the transfer of $15 million in Qatari funding to Hamas several times, but no one has accused him of supporting terrorism.”

Bisharat noted that it is common knowledge that “Israeli governments have been holding intensive negotiations with Hamas” and if Smotrich wanted to kick Odeh out, he could use the opportunity to get rid of all the Arab MKs asking sarcastically “what’s the big deal”  in the “only democracy in the Middle East?”

At the same time Odeh was attacked by other newspapers with a Jerusalem Post editorial opining that “Odeh chose to show solidarity with a terrorist” and what he did was “wrong,” but noted at the same time Israel is still battling with the inequality of its Arab citizens.

Writing in Makor Rishon, columnist Dr. Doron Matzah said that by meeting with a senior Hamas terrorist and with Fatah’s Jibril Rajoub, who is known for his anti-Israel policies, the Israeli Arab leadership had “gone off the tracks.”

Matzah said the meeting was an indication that Israeli Arab parties appeared to be abandoning their pragmatic approach and adopting a new confrontational strategic leadership model that “does not bode well for the state’s relations with the Arab minority,” saying “it is better for all parties to avoid sliding down such a particularly slippery and dangerous slope.”

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Yisrael Beitenu leader and former Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman took a poke at both Odeh and Netanyahu, noting that the sovereignty that had sparked the controversy didn’t happen last week as planned, making the entire issue moot.

“Ayman Odeh attended a Fatah and Hamas virtual conference about Netanyahu’s virtual annexation. I hope Ayman Odeh and his friends become virtual just like the conference,” Liberman tweeted.