Arab ‘Zionist Union’ MK: Hebron Stabber “Not Terrorist”
Jerusalem (TPS) – MK Zouheir Bahloul, an Arab-Israeli lawmaker from the Zionist Union party, has come under heavy fire from many fellow Knesset members, including his own party leader, for claiming that a Palestinian who stabbed and wounded an IDF soldier in Hebron on March 24 was “not a terrorist.”
Bahloul made his controversial statements on Thursday, April 7, in an interview with the Israeli Army Radio. “According to the Israelis, every Palestinian who resists the occupation is considered a terrorist,” he claimed. “I agree that the stabber is a murderer, but he is not a terrorist. My problem is that this word is becoming too general, turning every Palestinian into a terrorist.”
Bahloul drew a line between targeting civilians and attacking security forces or military bases.
“I agree that someone who kills an entire family is a terrorist and deserves severe punishment,” he said. “Anyone who killed an innocent civilian or ambushed a family returning from work is a terrorist. However, if they target a military base they cannot be considered terrorists.”
Bahloul is an Arab member of the predominantly Jewish Zionist Union party, a left-wing Knesset faction formerly known as the Labor party. Other members of the party were quick to condemn Bahloul’s statements, including party leader Isaac Herzog, head of the Opposition.
“I have made it clear to MK Bahloul that I reject and strongly condemn his statements,” wrote Herzog on his Facebook page. “The position of the Zionist-Union is that a terrorist is a terrorist, no matter whether he set out to kill Arabs or Jews.”
“Those who murder babies in their sleep or soldiers at a military base or bus station will forever be enemies, murderers and terrorists,” said Zionist Union MK Revital Swid. “Their is no difference between murdering a mother in front of her children and stabbing a soldier at the Damascus Gate.”
“I call on MK Bahloul to retract his statement that legitimizes attacks on soldiers. As a man of words, he understands their power,” added Swid, referring to Bahloul’s previous long career as a sports broadcaster.
Lawmakers from across the political spectrum condemned the statements. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called his words “embarrassing,” adding that “the IDF soldiers are protecting us from bloodthirsty murderers. I expect all Israeli citizens, especially Knesset members, to fully support them.”
Some MKs used Bahloul’s words to attack the Zionist Union party. “It is very saddening to see what happened to the Labor party,” said MK Ofir Akunis, the Minister of Science and member of the Likud party. “Bahloul’s surreal statements highlight the tragedy of an important party, whose founders had battled to establish the State of Israel.”