Right-wing politicians cried foul on Wednesday after Arab Israeli MK Ahmad Tibi (Ra'am-Ta'al) arrived in New York to witness Thursday's U.N. General Assembly vote to upgrade the status of "Palestine" to that of a nonmember observer state.
"This is a historic event that will serve as a milestone on the way toward an independent Palestinian state; this will translate into practical terms the idea of a two-state solution," Tibi said upon his arrival in the U.S. "I have fought my entire life to have Palestinians become free and establish their own state, and that is why I am here, as a partner and as a supporter."
Tibi, one of the handful of Arab MKs in the Knesset, has often elicited criticism from the right and from the general public for his advocacy of Palestinian issues. Some have even accused him of sympathizing with suicide bombers. Most recently, he was subject to a barrage of criticism for condemning Israel's military campaign in the Gaza Strip this month, during which he said Israeli forces were deliberately targeting civilians.
MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union), a candidate for the nationalist Strong Israel party, cynically advised Tibi that "upon his return from the U.N., he should go to Ramallah [where the Palestinian Authority's government is based] and stay there."
"He has no place in the Knesset and in the State of Israel," Eldad said. Alex Miller (Yisrael Beytenu) accused Tibi of "partaking in the diplomatic terrorism Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has been perpetrating against Israel."
Moshe (Mutz) Matalon, also from Yisrael Beytenu, echoed these comments, saying, "Nov. 29 has been and will forever remain a historic date for the Jewish people." It was on this date in 1947 that the U.N. voted on the Partition Plan for Palestine that set the stage for Israel's independence.
"The actions undertaken by this Holocaust denier Mahmoud Abbas to have this date mean something else are nothing more than a lowly attempt to imitate that episode in history and are designed salvage his political career," Matalon said.