Israeli Lawmaker: Why Can't Palestinians Resist Like Jews During the British Mandate?

Zionist Union MK Zouheir Bahloul's statements draw barbs from right and left of the political aisle.

Zohir Bahalul (L) and Avi Dichter (R) at the speaking event in Acre, Saturday April 9, 2016.
Joel Feldman

MK Zouheir Bahloul (Zionist Union) responded for the first time Saturday to the public outcry against his statement that he finds it hard to call the Palestinian shot dead in Hebron "a terrorist."

At a political speaking event moderated by him in Acre, Bahloul said "What will a Palestinian living under the yoke of the occupation for 49 years, who is wasting his life seeking a freedom which he is denied, do? For him, the soldiers are the marker of the occupation." According to Bahloul, "before 1948, when the British Mandate was here, the Irgun, the Lehi, and the Haganah, all the Jewish organizations went out to the streets and confronted the Mandate soldiers in order to bring about their state, which turned out to be amazing. Why is this being denied the Palestinians?"

These statements too have raised a storm of detractors. MK Avi Dichter (Likud), who also took part in the event, told Bahalul that his statements legitimized terrorism. "You wouldn't have dared to say such a thing were you a member of parliament in Egypt or Ramallah," Dichter sniped. "The attitude according to which the slaughtering of a soldier waiting on a bus at the Afula Central Bus Station isn't terrorism is a dangerous attitude."

Members of Bahloul's own party also criticized his statements. MK Eitan Cabel (Zionist Union), who was speaking at a similar event in Yokneam Saturday, said that "His [Bahloul's] statement essentially confirmed that he was not a part of the Zionist Union." Cabel continued saying "I will speak in terms that he understands – sports.  Not only was he not a team player. He knew that his opinions would hurt the team and despite this he chose not to remain silent. In doing so he added insult to injury."

MK Eitan Broshi (Zionist Union) speaking in another political speaking event in Rishon Lezion Saturday said that "The extreme and pointless statements [made by Bahloul] only served to strengthen the false conception a large portion of the public has of the Zionist Union, which positions the party more to the left than it is in reality, close to the center of the political map."

Earlier in the week, Bahalul told Army Radio that the Palestinian that was shot dead by a soldier in Hebron while he lay on the ground injured wasn't a terrorist, despite the fact that he stabbed a soldier. "He isn't a terrorist because my problem with 'terrorist' is that this word is becoming so inclusive. In my view every Palestinian is being turned into a terrorist."