Knesset panel to discuss ousting Odeh after his comments on Israeli-Arab cops
Yamina MK Nir Orbach said on Tuesday that he plans to convene the Knesset House committee — which he heads — to discuss removing Joint List leader MK Ayman Odeh from the Knesset.
The announcement signals further tension within the coalition over the question of whether or not to solicit the Joint List’s cooperation in supporting the government from the outside, should the current lame-duck coalition hobble on.
Likud MK Shlomo Karhi sent Orbach’s committee a letter signed by 70 legislators, asking for the committee to remove the parliamentarian, according to a statement from Orbach’s office.
“Ayman Odeh’s place is not in the Knesset. I’ll convene the committee shortly, according to procedures, in order to discuss MK Karhi’s request,” the House Committee chair said.
A spokesperson for Odeh did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Orbach’s announcement.
The responses come just days after Odeh recorded a Ramadan video message in which he slammed Arab Israelis who participate in the Israeli security apparatus.
“Young people must not join the occupation forces. I call on the young people who have already joined, who are no more than one percent, a total of a few thousand, whose joining is insulting and humiliating, I call on them — throw the weapons in their face and tell them that our place is not with you. We will not be part of the injustice and the crime,” he said in the video, recorded at Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate.
A spokesperson for Odeh later clarified that the lawmaker’s remarks referred exclusively to those serving in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, as opposed to civilian police.
The video, recorded amid an ongoing wave of terror attacks, solicited condemnation from across the political spectrum. It came a day after Odeh seemed to soften his language around potentially cooperating with the ailing government, which lost its majority last week and is searching for ways to sustain itself.
Case-by-case cooperation with the Joint List has been floated by several members of the coalition, which would require legislative backing in order to advance its legislative agenda, as it currently sits in a 60-60 seat deadlock with the opposition.
Orbach, who last week issued an “ultimatum” to Yamina party head and prime minister Naftali Bennett on conditions for staying in the coalition, is considered a flight risk. Orbach’s demands to Bennett concern advancing pro-religious and pro-settler interests.
The majority Arab Joint List party is stalwart in its support for a Palestinian national agenda, and has in the past been as reticent to support Israeli governments as ruling coalitions are to rely on the Joint List’s support.
But, the party is not a monolith. Rather, it is an amalgam of three separate parties, Hadash, Balad, and Ta’al. While Odeh — who heads Hadash — has made direct and indirect comments regarding government cooperation, Ta’al leader Ahmed Tibi has remained silent on the issue.