Arab MKs Refuse to Cooperate with Israeli ‘Commission of Inquiry’
Israeli Arab leaders said they would not cooperate with a government committee announced Sunday to probe the death of 13 Arab citizens in clashes with Israeli security forces earlier this month, saying a full state commission of inquiry with extensive powers must be appointed if a serious probe is to be conducted, according to a report by Haaretz Monday.
Arab Knesset members expressed anger and disappointment that the government had decided on a committee which will not have legal powers and the spokesman for the Higher Monitoring Committee for Arab-Israeli Affairs was quoted as saying that the body will probably issue a condemnation of the cabinet decision.
"I will not cooperate [with the committee] and I will call on [others] not to cooperate with it," MK Talab Sane’ (United Arab List) told the paper.
He described the committee as merely an attempt at a cover-up.
"The whole and sole purpose is to dampen the rage and show that 'something was done,” said Sane’
MK Ahmed Tibi (Ta'al) was quoted in the report as saying that the committee will "not be accepted", adding that a committee that includes a former chief of staff and an expert on terrorism does not send an endearing message to the Arab population.
According to Haaretz, the five-member committee is to be headed by a former deputy President of the Jerusalem District Court, Shalom Brenner, and includes one Arab member, Qalil Abud, retired President of the Nazareth Magistrate Court. Retired Chief of Staff Dan Shomron is also on the committee.
MK Azmi Bishara described the review committee as "just a little more than an academic research project."
He reiterated the dissatisfaction expressed by Tibi regarding the committee's makeup. "It's enough to look at the makeup of the review committee in order to understand why the Intifada broke out among Arab Israeli."
Satisfaction with the government's decision was expressed by the president of the Israel Bar Association, Shlomo Cohen, who told the Israeli daily that the organization will insist that a thorough investigation is carried out and that its conclusions will be heard.
"We are concerned with the behavior of the security forces toward Arab citizens of Israel. The fact that in the recent disturbances resulted in a large number of injuries raises the question as to whether the security forces use different standards in similar situations against other Israeli citizens. For example, [during] the Bar-Ilan road incidents in Jerusalem, or the way the police dealt with Jewish rioters in Nazareth recently.”
Criticism of the government's decision was expressed Monday by MKs from the right, said the paper.
It quoted Likud MK Uzi Landau as describing the decision as "giving in to the Islamic Movement" and an absence of gratitude toward the policemen who fought "for our protection.”
Meanwhile, Arabs workers in the 1948 Palestine are complaining that they are undergoing discrimination by the Jews, according to BBC radio Tuesday.
The radio said that a number of Arab workers have been fired by their Jewish employers. It said that extremists on the Jewish side have warned Israeli businessmen against having Arab employees in their companies – (Several Sources)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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