MKs in a Huff Over ISM Peace Activists

Three International Solidarity Movement activists watched from the Knesset gallery yesterday as right-wing MKs lashed out at the organization, calling them "warmongers" who should be deported.

The three women, one from Ireland and two from the U.S., were guests of MK Ahmed Tibi, who initiated the debate on "government policy to deport foreign peace activists."

Minister without Portfolio Gideon Ezra, speaking on behalf of the government, said there were no plans to prevent humanitarian and civil rights groups from operating in the territories, but that in recent days several ISM activists have been arrested. "Under the cover of peace activism, they undertake actions that disrupt public order, including entering closed and dangerous areas to act as human shields to prevent IDF operations against terrorism," he said.

Deputy Education Minister Zvi Hendel of the National Union, who lives in a Gaza settlement, and MKs Yehiel Hazan and Ruhama Avraham of the Likud protested the fact they were allowed into the Knesset building.

Hazan called them "warmongers," MK Roni Bar-On said they were "provocateurs" and when Tibi said they should be saluted for their efforts, Bar-On shot back, "they should be saluted by the Border Police as they leave the country."

In Tibi's office, the three women said their organization encourages Palestinians to use nonviolent means against the occupation and emphasized their only encounter with the two British men who blew up Mike's Place in Tel Aviv this month was when the two showed up at a memorial service for Rachel Corrie, the American ISM volunteer crushed to death by an IDF bulldozer during a house demolition in Rafah in March.

Meanwhile, a French Jewish radio station said two French citizens are being deported after they were arrested in East Jerusalem. The two originally were suspected of being tied to the Mike's Place bombers, but police concluded that while the Frenchmen spent time with the two Britons, they were unaware of the terror plans. The deportation was approved because the two failed to report to the authorities that they had met the bombers, once their identity was made public. Police are awaiting DNA material from Britain to determine whether the body that washed up on the Tel Aviv beach this week was Omar Khan Sharif, 27, who escaped after his explosive belt failed to detonate.