WATCH: Netanyahu's response to Arab MK who said Arabs were here first
Arab MK rejects Jews' claim on the land in late-night Knesset debate: "We were here before you; we will be here after you" • This prompts the prime minister to deliver a rebuttal: "The first part is not true and the second will never take place."
Israel Hayom Staff
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Photo credit: Dudi Vaaknin
MK Jamal Zahalka
Photo credit: Uri Lenz
Late Wednesday night, the Knesset voted on a bill to make the controversial "referendum law" a basic law, which would necessitate a national referendum on any peace deal that would require territorial withdrawals.
During the plenum debate, Arab MK Jamal Zahalka (National Democratic Assembly) said that the bill was irrelevant because it referred to "occupied territory, and as such, what applies is international law; the referendum should apply to the nations of the world."
Zahalka was subsequently heckled by Habayit Hayehudi lawmakers, who said, "You are the foreigners in this land," to which Zahalka responded, "We were here before you and we will be here after you."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seen in the video immediately raising his hand to be allowed a response from the Knesset podium.
"I did not plan to speak but I heard what MK Zahalka had to say. You said 'We were here before you and we'll be here after you're gone.' The first part is not true and the second part will never take place," the prime minister said, slamming his hand on the podium and leaving.
Netanyahu's comments were met with applause from much of the Knesset, even though Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein asked MKs to refrain from clapping.
Zahalka later clarified that his attack on Habayit Hayehudi MKs was directed "against racists, not Jews."
On Thursday, the Prime Minister's Office released the video of Netanyahu's comments, as well as tweeting them, under the heading: "The conflict twitterized."
Speaking at the U.N. General Assembly in 2012, Netanyahu said: "The Jewish people have lived in the land of Israel for thousands of years. Even after most of our people were exiled from it, Jews continued to live in the land of Israel throughout the ages. The masses of our people never gave up the dreamed of returning to our ancient homeland. Defying the laws of history, we did just that. We ingathered the exiles, restored our independence and rebuilt our national life. The Jewish people have come home.