Senior Israeli-Arab Lawmaker Trolls Netanyahu, Cracks Up Knesset

Poking fun at PM's promises to lawmakers as he attempts to form a coalition at the last minute, Ayman Odeh jokes that he was offered 'full withdrawal from the occupied territories' and 'equal rights to Arabs'

Hadash Chairman Ayman Odeh in the Knesset, Jerusalem, May 29, 2019.
Emil Salman

Hadash Chairman Ayman Odeh brought laughter to a tense evening in the Knesset on Wednesday evening as he poked fun of last-minute promises Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made as he scrambled to form a coalition.

"I have a dramatic announcement and I apologize to my fellow MKs that I didn't let you know ahead of time," the Arab lawmaker told the Knesset as they waited for a vote on dissolving the Knesset, which would send Israel to a new election.

"Seven minutes ago Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to me and he said he is willing to withdraw from the occupied territories and also to cancel the nation-state law, and that he supports not only civil equality but also national equality, and that he's willing to recognize the Nakba and fix the historical wrong – in return for the immunity law," he continued to audible laughter, referencing the prime minister's efforts to pass legislation that would prevent him from being indicted for corruption.

"And I had no time to consult with you! And I'm looking at the clock and wondering when I have to get back to him."

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Earlier, it emerged Netanyahu had offered the defense portfolio to Labor Chairman Avi Gabbay in order to tempt him into entering a coalition amid frantic efforts to reach the one additional seat required for a majority in the Knesset.