Arab MK Addresses Knesset in Kaffiyeh, Criticizes Aharonovitch

Israeli Minister of Internal Security Yitzhak Aharonovitch in the Knesset on Wednesday.  (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
Israeli Minister of Internal Security Yitzhak Aharonovitch in the Knesset on Wednesday. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

An Israeli-Arab MK calling for the resignation of the security minister for what he claims was inciting police brutality, appeared in the Knesset wearing a kaffiyeh on Wednesday.

Balad party MK Basel Ghattas’s choice of headgear — symbolic of Palestinian nationalism — provoked some of his right-wing colleagues to demand disciplinary action.

Speaking before the Knesset plenum, Ghattas was urging Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch (Yisrael Beiteinu) to resign for incitement that allegedly led to the police killing of a Palestinian in Kafr Kana. Ghattas asked rhetorically if Aharonovich’s threat that any terrorist who tries to harm Israelis will be killed had anything to do with it.

In the incident at Kafr Kana, a Palestinian brandishing a knife who attacked a police cruiser was shot dead. A video showing the attacker backing off in the face of drawn pistols has resulted in calls for an investigation, including from the U.S. State Department. But the police officers involved, backed by senior officials, have insisted they acted in self-defense, not only against the attacker seen in the video, but against a violent mob nearby as well.

In the Knesset, Aharonovitch shouted at Ghattas: “Your question is not worth a reaction, but I will say I have no intention to resign, to your bitter disappointment.”

MK Miri Regev (Likud) called on the attorney general to put Ghattas on trial for his “wretched provocation, especially in these tense days.”

Ghattas reportedly maintained that he was wearing the kaffiyeh, not as a provocation, but in solidarity with two Muslim schoolchildren who recently encountered hostility from fellow Druze students who demanded they remove them.

When MKs protested Ghattas kaffiyeh, kippah-wearing speaker Yuri Edelstein defended him, saying, “Just like we can come to the Knesset with a kippah, he can come in a keffiyeh.”

Regev later said that she would like Knesset Legal Adviser Eyal Yinon to examine the legality of an MK making a speech while wearing a keffiyeh.

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