Netanyahu Blasts Arab Lawmakers Over Hezbollah: Have You Lost Your Minds?

Two factions from Israeli Arab party condemned the designation of Hezbollah as a terror group by Arab League and Gulf states, prompting claims of treason.

Ofra Edelman
Ofra Edelman
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, February 10, 2016.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, February 10, 2016.Credit: Olivieh Fitoussi
Ofra Edelman
Ofra Edelman

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blasted Israeli Arab lawmakers Monday after they condemned a decision by two leading Arab world organizations to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

"You are citizens of the state – have you lost your minds?" Netanyahu said Monday at a special Knesset session called by the opposition about Israel's waning international standing.

Hadash and Balad, two factions from Israel's sole Israeli Arab political party, the Joint Arab List, said over the weekend the decision to list Hezbollah as a terror group by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the Arab League serves Israel's interests. Hadash even said the decision serves the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and was proof that the Gulf states are siding with colonialism and Zionism against the interests of the people of the Arab world.

A left-wing protest after Palestinian-Israeli violence in Tel Aviv, Israel October 9, 2015. The signs read: 'Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies'.Credit: Reuters

Netanyahu said their comments were nothing short of "astonishing." "I want to tell you: you condemned [the Arab organizations] while Hezbollah files rockets on your villages?" the prime minister said.

"There are massive changes overtaking the Arab world [with] an increasing number of countries understanding now more than ever that Israel is not their enemy. It stands with them in their battle against ISIS.

"With these new connections comes great potential for change in the region. They give us hope for a better future alongside all the people in the Middle East. I can only hope these contacts will help our relations with the Palestinians, or at least with those Palestinians who want to live with us in peace," Netanyahu said.

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, a member of Netanyahu's Likud party, lodged a complaint with the Knesset's Ethics Committee over the Arab lawmakers' condemnation, calling them "traitors."

"It was unbelievable that members of Israel's Knesset are sabotaging Israeli interests," Katz said, calling on the Arab party leaders to "join Azmi Bishara," the former Knesset member who fled to Qatar amid allegations that he had passed information to Hezbollah. "That is the place for traitors," the minister said.

Likud MK Oren Hazan demanded that Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit open an investigation into the parties, saying the "Arab parties are subverting against the state on a daily basis and are openly expressing support of terror organizations and encouraging the murder of innocent civilians without dealing with the needs of their constituency."

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