Middle East Eye / January 10, 2023
Latest outburst from member of ruling coalition comes as parliament debates harsh new punishments for Palestinians convicted of attacks on Israelis.
A member of Israel’s government said he prefers “Jewish murderers over Arab murderers” during a heated parliamentary committee meeting, in the latest example of Benjamin Netanyahu’s new administration veering to the racist far right.
Hanoch Milwidsky, a lawmaker from Netanyahu’s Likud party, said “crude tools” must be used against Palestinians who carry out deadly attacks against Israelis, including the death penalty, stripping Palestinian citizens of Israel of their citizenship and retaliating against suspects’ families.
The statement prompted a heated exchange with Ahmad Tibi, a Palestinian member of Israel’s parliament, who said Milwidsky’s proposal unfairly targets Palestinians in Israel, occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
“I do not feel any need to justify myself for the fact that I, in the Jewish state, prefer Jews. Yes, Ahmad Tibi, I prefer Jewish murderers over Arab murderers,” Milwidsky retorted.
Tibi had questioned Milwidsky on whether Israel would revoke the citizenship of the right-wing terrorist Yigal Amir, who assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995.
The House Committee panel also discussed on Monday revoking Jerusalem residency status and Palestinian Authority (PA) identity documents from Palestinian political prisoners whose families receive stipends from the PA.
“As a general rule, I prefer Jews over disloyal Arabs,” Milwidsky said. “We’re done apologizing for this.”
Members of the far-right Religious Zionism alliance, a key part of the new government, supported Milwidsky. MP Limor Son Har-Melech of the Jewish Power party told Ynet radio: “A Jew who kills an Arab needs to sit in prison until the end of his life. An Arab who kills a Jew needs to die.”
Son Har-Melech’s husband was killed in a Palestinian attack in 2003. She said that “any terrorist who kills a Jew for nationalist reasons opposes the existence of the State of Israel and cannot be a citizen of the state”.
The committee panel agreed to fast-track laws in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, to relax the rules against revoking Israeli citizenship or residency from Palestinians who are convicted of deadly attacks against Israelis.
The panel convened a few days after the release of Palestinian prisoner Karim Younis from Israeli prison, where he spent 40 years. Younis, who holds Israeli citizenship, was convicted in the 1980s of killing an Israeli soldier and for belonging to the Fatah movement.
He was received as a national hero in his hometown of Arraba, and visited by several PA and Fatah figures, amid calls from Israeli politicians to revoke his citizenship.