Arab MKs to Skip Knesset Balfour Ceremony

YERUSHALAYIM -
MK Zouheir Bahloul. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images)

Attendance at the Knesset ceremony in honor of the Balfour Declaration centenary this week will not be 100 percent.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will be in London for the event there, but he won’t be the only Knesset member absent. The 13 members of the Arab Joint List won’t be there, either.

“Of course we will not be participating in the event honoring the Balfour Declaration,” said one of its MKs, Youssef Jabareen, on Monday. “Britain had promised land that did not even belong to it…ignoring its original inhabitants and without even asking them.”

Somewhat more surprising was Zionist Camp Arab MK Zouheir Bahloul’s announcement on Monday that he also won’t be on hand.

Not that anyone should take it the wrong way. “It is not out of defiance that I will not be attending the session,” Zouheir Bahloul told Channel 2. “This is simply not a joint celebration for me and my Jewish friends.”

Bahloul explained that he is an Israeli, but also a Palestinian. “What about my people? he asked. “You (the Jewish people) received the the right to self-determination through the Balfour Declaration, while the same Palestinian goes completely ignored.”

“I do not think it would be appropriate to participate when I myself am not free,” Bahloul said.

At least some of his comrades at the Zionist Camp don’t think such sentiments are appropriate for a fellow MK. Sources close to party chairman Avi Gabbay were quoted by Channel 2 as saying that that Bahloul’s remarks “were too extreme and that his place is no longer in the party.”

Gabbay does not have the power to summarily purge Bahloul from the party, but they said he will find his name missing from the Zionist Camp list in the next election.