Knesset Committee Retracts Israeli Arab MK's Right to Speak at Parliamentary Sessions

MK Ahmed Tibi banned from making one-minute speeches after verbal confrontation with Knesset Ethics Committee chairman; Tibi spokesman: Ethics Committee has turned into a right-wing tribunal.

The Knesset Ethics Committee took disciplinary action against Israeli-Arab MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List – Ta'al) on Tuesday, when it retracted his right to make one-minute speeches at Knesset sessions for one month, starting immediately.

The decision to retract his right to speak was made after a verbal confrontation between the MK and Ethics Committee chairman Yitzhak Vaknin (Shas) just over a fortnight ago. The two argued over the latter's decision to ban Tibi from parliamentary sessions for reciting a controversial poem following an incident involving Yisrael Beiteinu MK Anastasia Michaeli.

tibi - Emil Salman - October 11 2010
Emil Salman

Tibi's parliamentary aide, Ahmad Muhanna, responded to the decision to retract the MK's right to speak, calling it a "harsh blow" to his freedom of speech. "It is clear to all that this is a personal attack of MK Tibi. The Ethics Committee has turned into a right-wing tribunal that is persecuting Tibi over his speech. This event was supposed to lead to the suspension of Vaknin, who chaired the discussion, lashed out at Tibi and prevented him from speaking."

"A red line has been crossed by the committee headed today by Knesset Member Aryeh Eldad (National Union), who called Tibi an "enemy"," the parliamentary aide added.

Last month, Tibi lodged an official complaint with Knesset security on Sunday after a number of death threats were posted to his Facebook page. Knesset authorities transferred the complaint to Israel Police.

The threats were posted following the speech Tibi delivered to the Knesset the previous week, entitled "Problems with Anastassia's plumbing". The speech was dedicated to MK Anastassia Michaeli (Yisrael Beiteinu), who was suspended from the Knesset for a period of one month after pouring a glass of water on Arab MK Raleb Majadele (Labor) during a committee session.

Read this article in Hebrew.