Coalition MKs at Odds Over Bill to Memorialize Kafr Kassem Massacre

YERUSHALAYIM -
MK Ayman Odeh (center), head of the Joint Arab List, leads a party meeting at the Knesset, Monday. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Bennett-Lapid coalition’s “ideological diversity” will be put to the test on Wednesday in a vote on the establishment of a national day of mourning for the victims of the 1956 Kafr Kassem massacre, in which 48 Arab-Israelis were shot dead by Border Police officers, The Jerusalem Post said.

Right-wing, left-wing and Arab members of the coalition are at odds over the contentious proposal, which was sponsored this time around by the Joint Arab List, which is not part of the coalition.

Both Ra’am (United Arab List) and Meretz are expected to vote for the bill. Ra’am MK Waleed Taha and Regional Cooperation Minister Esawi Frej (Meretz), who is not an MK, live in Kafr Kassem. Both have introduced similar bills in the past.

Construction and Housing Minister Ze’ev Elkin (New Hope) warned Meretz and Ra’am that if they vote for the bill, then right-wing ministers would in turn vote for right-wing opposition bills not to their liking that could easily pass.

Ra’am MK Mazen Ghanaim said he would not be intimidated, and intends to vote in favor of the bill.

This is the kind of friction Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has been warning his coalition partners to avoid in the run-up to the all-important vote on the state budget, which is scheduled for next Wednesday and Thursday.

A pre-budget vote entertainment event, aimed at “building morale” and harmony among coalition MKs has been organized for a hall in Modi’in.

Ra’am MKs are not expected to attend, due to a scheduling conflict—it’s the anniversary of the Kafr Kassem massacre.