Chairman of the Joint Arab List, MK Ayman Odeh, on Tuesday night sparked a political storm when he called PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh to congratulate them on their reconciliation talks. Odeh told both leaders that the “Palestinians” in the Galilee, the Arab Triangle and the Negev value the reconciliation agreement and pin their hopes on it. He then stressed that every Arab efforts should be united and dedicated to ending the “occupation.”
“I spoke today with Palestinian President Abbas and with the head of the Hamas political bureau, Haniyeh,” Odeh later tweeted. “I congratulated them on their unity.”
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman sharply criticized Odeh’s move, saying, “Unfortunately, the political leadership of Israeli Arabs, as represented in the Knesset by the Joint List, has become a fifth column without any quotation marks – a senior representative of terrorist organizations in the Knesset.”
“The time has come to bring to justice those who seek to undermine the foundations of the state,” the Defense Minister added. But Liberman did not promise to eliminate Odeh in 48 hours, as he had done just before taking office about Haniyeh (see Is Ismail Haniyeh Dead Yet?).
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday didn’t have anything nice to say about the reconciliation government on Tuesday night. Speaking at a Bible study forum, the PM said, “Whoever talks about peace needs to say, first of all, that it is necessary to recognize the State of Israel, the state of the Jewish People. Peace requires recognition of the State of Israel, the national state of the Jewish People.”
With that part being stated clearly, and with the understanding that no Hamas coalition partner in the PA government would likely deliver the recognition he demanded, Netanyahu stressed: “We are not interested in a bogus reconciliation in which the Palestinian factions reconcile with each other at the expense of our existence. Therefore, we expect to see three things: One – recognition of the State of Israel; two – dismantling the military arm of Hamas; and three – severing the link with Iran, which calls for our destruction. These things are basic and we insist on them.”
MK Oren Hazan (Likud) slammed Odeh, saying, “Ayman Odeh is a terrorist in a suit. What he has managed to conceal for two years of smiling – he revealed in one phone call with Haniyeh.”
Hazan announced that he would file a complaint with the police against MK Odeh for illegal contact with a terrorist organization. “The time has come to put an end to this – enough talking, the time has come for operative steps.”
MK Hazan is also planning to sign up coalition and opposition MKs on a petition to remove Odeh from the Knesset, as the law indicates. “We can continue to tut-tut about the ingratitude of the Joint List members. But as long as real steps are taken against them – nothing will help, and their treachery will only get worse,” Hazan said, recommending that Odeh join former MK Basel Ghattas from his party, behind bars for security violations.