Knesset Softens Title of Motion on 'U.S. War Crimes' to Avoid Altercation With Obama

The secretariat had initially accepted right-wing MK Michael Ben-Ari's proposal as titled, but changed name in the middle of discussion upon protest from Deputy FM Ayalon.

The Knesset secretariat on Wednesday changed the title of an agenda motion on U.S. military documents recently leaked by the website WikiLeaks, to avoid damaging Israel's relations with the Obama administration.

The secretariat had initially accepted right-wing MK Michael Ben-Ari's proposal to discuss "U.S. war crimes", but took an unusual step and altered the name in the middle of deliberations on the motion.

MK Michael Ben-Ari
Tess Scheflan

Ben-Ari, who recently asked the United Nations to investigate "U.S. war crimes", had already taken to the podium and delivered a combative address regarding the behavior of the American government when the secretariat made its decision.

The move was prompted by Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, who stood up after Ben-Ari and protested the title of the motion.

Danny Ayalon- Tess Scheflan- March 8, 2010
Tess Scheflan

"I don't know if you did this to be defiant or teasing or maybe even just out of black humor," Ayalon said to Ben-Ari when he took his place at the podium. "I just have no other way of looking at this."

"In Jerusalem, in the Israeli house of legislation, this is how we present something like this?" said Ayalon." This is terrible, and not just from a utilitarian perspective. The fact that the U.S. is our best and strongest friend cannot be appealed."

"MK Ben-Ari, I completely appreciate your parliamentary abilities, but you are almost wasting a motion for the agenda," Ayalon added.

"Had you said 'Al-Qaida war criminals', I would have understood. Had you said 'the report that emerged, that was leaked,' I would understand. But 'U.S. war crimes?"

The deputy foreign minister went on to lambaste the secretariat for not monitoring the title. Following Ayalon's remarks, Ben-Ari himself decided to change his motion to deliberation on 'the reports published regarding the issues of U.S. war crimes" – which was accepted as being less inflammatory.

The documents, which have been called "the biggest leak in history", showed that the United States covered up Iraqi security forces' torturing of prisoners and hid the true facts about civilian casualties during combat.