The Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee deals with many issues related to the Arab-Israeli conflict, including the rehabilitation of disabled IDF veterans and of families of victims of war and terror. It also controls the IDF soldiers’ pay regulations. And, as of this week, chairmanship of the committee has been awarded to the Joint Arab List.
The committee is expected to include four Blue&White members, four Likud, two from the Joint Arab List including the committee chairman, and one representative each from all the other Knesset factions. The Arab list has yet to make a decision on which of its MKs will chair the committee.
The Joint Arab List has attacked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for suggesting that List MKs should not serve as committee chairs because of their biases. List members cited the case of MK Aida Touma-Suleiman, who chaired the Committee on the Status of Women for four years. But Touma-Suleiman was as biased as they come on those Jewish-Arab wedge issues. She turned a cold shoulder each time issues related to the IDF’s treatment of female soldiers came up.
In fact, for the first year and a half of her term, Touma-Suleiman blocked any discussion of the status of female IDF soldiers and referred them to the Foreign and Security Committee or to the Interior Committee (Arab List MK Suleiman: Jewish Law of Return No Longer Needed).
Only after receiving criticism from across the aisle, did she deign to allow Knesset members to discuss the status of female IDF soldiers in her committee, but made sure to leave the committee room whenever such issues were debated, saying it was because she never served in the IDF and didn’t know any female soldier.
It is conceivable that this will be the case as well at the Labor, Welfare and Health Committee, each time the Arab List chairman has to deal with the treatment of victims of terrorism, especially regarding the Israeli government’s policy of deducting from the taxes and customs due the Palestinian Authority the salaries to terrorists behind bars in Israeli prisons.
But the fear is not that the Arab List committee chairman recuse himself or herself on these issues – it’s more likely that they would manipulate the committee agenda to sabotage the policy, seeing as many of the List MKs openly support anti-Zionist terrorism.
Meir Indor, from the Almagor Terror Victims Association, says the decision to grant the Labor, Welfare and Health Committee to a Joint Arab List representative was a “black day” for Israeli victims of terrorism.
“We need to understand that this committee deals with issues that terror victims need to have addressed,” Indor explained, “or issues like the denial of allowances to the families of Israeli Arab terrorists. The very appearance of terror victims and bereaved families in front of Knesset members who have expressed sympathy for the murderers is a terrible thing.”
“This committee has been a home to the victims of terrorism. The legislation that helped the children whose two parents were murdered was made there, and many more bills and amendments. How can they now appear before Ahmad Tibi, Arafat’s former adviser, or Heba Yazbak, who expressed her support for the terrorists?”