Likud lawmaker Miri Regev harshly attacked lawmaker Ram Ben Barak and refused to back down from the accusation that he hates his own country, even after members of her own party came out against her.
Ben Barak, a member of the Yesh Atid party, is currently the chairman of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. Earlier this month, Ben Barak, a former deputy head of Mossad and veteran of Israel’s top commando unit, suspended a member of his staff, lawyer Linir Abu Hazaz, after she posted a picture of herself with Ekrima Sa’id Sabri, the former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, on social media.
Sabri, who has been detained by Israeli authorities on multiple occasions, has previously made statements supporting violence and minimizing the Holocaust.
After the photograph was publicized by right-wing activists and became viral on social media, Regev, who was Minister of Culture under Benjamin Netanyahu, denounced Ben Barak in the Knesset plenum as a “hater of Israel” and a terror sympathizer.
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Ben Barak, whose brother died in the Yom Kippur War, shot back at Regev that she “has no shame” and that her attack on him was not political, but personal.
Ben Barak later announced that after examining the evidence, he has decided to return Abu Haza to his staff. According to Ben Barak she participated in a tour guides’ course which included a visit to Temple Mount and had been photographed with a number of people following its conclusion. He added that as his legislative assistant, she was not exposed to security-related materials from the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
Regev, in reply, repeated her smear of Ben Barak, telling Israeli public broadcaster Kan that she “stood by” her comment. “What would you call a person who chairs the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and meets with people who are inciters and supporters of terror,” she asked, dismissing his decades of combat and intelligence service as having “happened in the past.”
Regev’s attack was denounced, in an unusual statement, by a colleague from her own party. Likud MK Avi Dicther, a former director of Israel’s Shin Bet, condemned her words as “shameful, adding that he has known Ben Barark for 40 years and that despite their political disagreements, he considered him “salt of the earth.”