Photo Credit: courtesy, Ahmad Tibi
Israeli Joint Arab List MK Ahmad Tibi

Four Knesset members of Israel’s Arab Joint List met on Saturday for talks with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

MKs Ahmad Tibi, Taleb Abu Gharar, Masoud Ghnaim and Osama Sa’adi traveled to the country in order to ask Erdogan to release three Israeli Arabs who were arrested for violating local laws during their visit to the country.

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They were in Turkey to receive kidney transplants, according to Ynet, but were arrested during their stay.

The reasons for the arrest were not clear.

Erdogan subsequently ordered the release of the three Israeli-Arabs from the Turkish prison, according to the Ynet report. As of publication of this report, that last detail has not been confirmed in the Turkish press.

The four Israeli parliamentarians – referred to as “Palestinian members of the Israeli parliament” – were received by Turkey’s president at the Tarabya Presidential Campus (Huber Villa) in a 90-minute closed-door meeting, according to sources quoted by Hurriyet Daily News.

The news outlet said Erdogan thanked the four Knesset members “for their service of representing the Palestinian will in Israel’s legislative body against Tel Aviv’s ‘oppression’ in Gaza as well as its ‘Jewish State’ law and ‘baseless rhetoric’ against Turkey.”

The Turkish president further encouraged the Joint List lawmakers to “work in unity and solidarity, saying that the controversial law defining Israel as a Jewish state was in open disregard of Palestinian citizen rights,” Hurriyet reported.

Arab residents in Israel also have citizenship, comprise 21 percent of the population and are represented by lawmakers in the Israeli parliament, the Turkish news outlet acknowledged in its report.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.