Last update - 15:38 13/01/2007
Leftist MK slams Tibi for urging Fatah to 'continue the struggle'
By Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondent, and Haaretz Service
A left-wing Knesset member slammed outspoken Arab MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta'al) Friday for calling on Fatah supporters to "continue the struggle" until a Palestinian state is established.
MK Avshalom Vilan (Meretz-Yachad) said Tibi - who is deputy speaker of the Knesset - went too far when he advocated a "struggle," a word often used to signify terrorism, at a rally in Ramallah on Thursday marking the 42nd anniversary of the Fatah movement.
"As soon as there are political calls there for a struggle, [Tibi] is essentially crossing the line and creating an impossible situation," Vilan told Israel Radio on Friday.
Vilan noted that Tibi expressed "total identification" with Fatah - referring to himself and his audience as "we" and to Israelis as "they" - even though, said Vilan, Tibi represents all Knesset members and the entire Israeli population.
Vilan also said he continues to believe that Israeli Arabs can potentially serve as a bridge between Israeli Jews and Palestinians, but that Tibi's remarks damage the ability of Jewish and Arab Israelis to work together to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In his impassioned speech Thursday, Tibi evoked the presence of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, saying to cheers and gunfire that he "is still with us," and called on the Palestinians to unite.
"My greetings to the Fatah members from whose midst the first martyrs fell and the first prisoners were arrested," he said. "They want to destroy Palestine, but we will continue the struggle until the establishment of a state with Jerusalem as its capital."
Tibi told Israel Radio on Friday that the entity he was calling on Palestinians to struggle against was the Israeli occupation.
The crowd responded: "Millions of martyrs are marching to Jerusalem."