Netanyahu Calls for Incitement Probe Against Israeli Arab Lawmaker

MK Jamal Zahalka (Joint Arab List) told a Gazan news website that Palestinians needed to unite to prevent Jewish visits to the Temple Mount.

MK Jamal Zahalka.
Olivier Fitoussi

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Friday asked the attorney general to investigate whether a call by an Israeli Arab Knesset member to prevent Jews from visiting the Temple Mount qualifies as incitement.

MK Jamal Zahalka (Joint Arab List) told a Palestinian news website in Gaza that Palestinians in general, and those in Jerusalem in particular, needed to get together to prevent visits by Jews to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount. Such visits, he said, were one of the reasons for the outbreak of the third intifada.

"These visits are increasing day by day and it's up to us to prevent them in any way we can," Zahalka said.

The continuation of the third intifada is dependent on the behavior of the Palestinian factions, Zahalka told the Donia Al-Watan website.

"Will the factions adopt the popular struggle and take action throughout the homeland or will they leave if to individualistic actions by the youth?" he asked.

"The Palestinian people have paid a heavy price for Al-Aqsa, amounting to 4,000 fatalities during the second intifada," he added.

Following publication of his comments in Israel, Zahalka said that it was his duty to "warn against the possibility of a dangerous escalation due to visits by right-wingers to Al-Aqsa, as happened after the 2000 visit by [former prime minister Ariel] Sharon."

The problem, he added, was provocative visits to the Temple Mount and not his call to stop them.

Regarding Netanyahu's request that Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit investigate his comments, Zahalka said: "Netanyahu knows perfectly that there is no basis to his appeal to the attorney general. His purpose is to gain glory as a hero over the minority."