PM Defends Arab MKs After Lieberman Calls for Execution

Lieberman: Arab MKs who talk to Hamas should be executed; Tibi: Fascism is way of life for Lieberman; United Arab List MK files complaint with Ethics Committee.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert came to the defense of Arab Knesset members after Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman on Thursday lashed out at Israeli Arab political parties and said he hoped Arab MKs who had contact with Hamas or did not celebrate Independence Day would be executed.

During a Knesset plenum debate, Lieberman said Arab MKs who meet with Hamas leaders "are cooperating with the enemy" and must be tried.

"The Second World War ended with the Nuremberg trials and the execution of the Nazi leadership," said Lieberman, whose party failed to reach a coalition deal with the ruling Kadima party and will remain outside the government.

"Not only them, but also those who collaborated with then. I hope that will also be the fate of the collaborators in this house," referring to the Knesset.

Following Lieberman's attacks, Olmert came to the defense of Arab MKs and said he has no doubt that all members of Knesset - Jews and Arabs together - act in the interests of Israel.

Just prior to the swearing-in of the new government, Olmert said, "Let's not cross those certain lines that we tend to cross in the intensity of debate. We don't have 'more patriotic' and 'less patriotic' here. I don't see people who love the State of Israel more or less.

"We cannot take the debates between us into the realm of fiery extremism, impatience and intolerance. The time has come to talk without incitement and without violating the law," Olmert said.

The Yisrael Beiteinu leader said his party demanded that the government's guidelines ruled that "all those instigators and those who collaborate with terror from within this house [the Knesset] must face sentencing - all those who continue to meet with members of Hezbollah and Hamas, continue to travel to Lebanon, and those who just two days ago declared that Independence Day is Nakba Day and hoisted black flags."

Lieberman's comments sparked harsh responses from Arab Knesset members.

"You are a racist," Labor MK Raleb Majadele told Lieberman. "You do not accept the decisions of the nation. You are two-faced."

Hadash chairman MK Mohammed Barakeh accused Lieberman of making a terrible connection between a legitimate stance and the Nuremberg trials, which would lead to bloodshed of Arab lawmakers who marked the Nakba. He said that if anyone were to be tried, it should be Mafiosi such as Lieberman, who had once again proved that fascism is always the last refuge of villains.

Speaking in the Knesset plenum, Barakeh also called for a renewal of the Nuremberg trials in order to "try neo-Nazis such as Lieberman."

Ra'am-Ta'al MK Ahmed Tibi said Lieberman's "racist comments" were made by a "man for whom fascism has become a way of life and racism a tool of his trade."

United Arab List MK Ibrahim Tzartzur filed a complaint with the Knesset Ethics Committee against MK Lieberman. Tzartzur said Lieberman's comments constituted racist incitement that was liable to lead to the spilling of Arab MKs' blood.

MK Talab al-Sana (United Arab List) called Lieberman "crazy," telling Channel 2 TV news, "We need to pass legislation stopping racist fascists like this from reaching the parliament and getting official posts."