Arab MKs: Bid to Bar Trips to Enemy States Is 'Racist'

Two bills proposed by right-wing MKs would stop anyone who travels to enemy state from serving as Knesset member.

Israeli Arab lawmakers responded angrily Wednesday to proposed legislation that would prevent anyone who travels to a country classified as an enemy state from serving as a Knesset member.

The Knesset plenum approved proposals for two bills on this issue in preliminary readings on Wednesday.

The bills were drafted by right-wing MKs Zevulun Orlev of National Union-National Religious Party and Esterina Tartman of Yisrael Beiteinu.

MK Ahmed Tibi (Ra'am-Ta'al) said that "the Knesset is steeped in racism. Corrupt members of Knesset want a Knesset without Arabs. The face of the Knesset is the face of Esterina: Knesseterina. If I am invited [to enemy states] I will go regardless of the law. I am sure that a person who violates an unjustified law, or whose conscience is not completely clear, and is willing to pay the price and be imprisoned in order to raise public awareness regarding the injustice in the law, then that person is showing his respect to the most supreme values."

Talab A-Sana (Ra`am-Ta`al) said that "the bill is opposed to peace, the Arab public, and its representatives that are visiting Arab states. This is a dark bill that constitutes political persecution, and shows what a substandard level the Knesset has reached."

The bills were approved by a majority of 52 in favor and 19 who opposed. MK Zehava Gal-On (Meretz) maintained that the bill was racist.

Hadash Chairman MK Mohammed Barakeh said that "If we have to choose between loyalty to our people, or serving in the Knesset, then good luck to the Knesset. We don't want you."

During the hearing, Barakeh called out to other MKs, "choke along with the Knesset." MK Yuval Steinitz (Likud) slammed Arab MKs in return, saying, "you believe in Syrian democracy."