Israeli Arabs Reject Government Probe of Riots
The higher monitoring committee on Israeli Arab Affairs has decided not to cooperate with a government appointed commission of inquiry on the violent clashes between Israeli Arabs and police earlier this month, reported Haaretz newspaper.
The decision by the panel, which is made up of the elected representatives of the Arab community in Israel, is likely to make matters much harder for the government committee, which is due to begin its investigation Sunday, according to the paper.
Members of the monitoring committee informed Culture and Science Minister, Matan Vilnai, of their decision during a meeting with him Thursday.
The Arab representatives maintained that the panel would not succeed in bringing the truth to light, said spokesman for the monitoring committee Abed al-Antawi.
The committee members were reportedly disappointed by their meeting with Vilnai.
Al-Antawi said that most of the disappointment resulted from the government's refusal to release hundreds of residents from the Arab villages who were arrested on suspicion that they participated in the riots, said the paper.
Vilnai told the committee that this was a legal rather than a political matter, and that he personally believed that the state would be tougher on those who break the law, whether they are Jews or Arabs.
Haaretz quoted Al-Antawi as saying that the committee members would announce a series of protest steps including a hunger strike. The committee has also called on Israeli Arabs to participate in a demonstration scheduled for Sunday morning opposite the Zevulun police station, where MK Mohammed Barakeh will be questioned today on suspicion that he hit a police officer during a demonstration last year, according to the paper.
Arab MK Ahmad Tibi had told Albawaba.com in an interview last week that "It is impossible, with the killing of 13 martyrs and the wounding of thousands by live ammunition, to accept an investigation by any committees other than an official investigative committee that is different from a general one. "
He added that "the proposal to form a general committee headed by a judge appointed by Prime Minister Barak without consultation with us is nothing but an attempt to calm the situation. "
"The committee presented to us even includes Dan Sharon, an army general and a former chief of staff. I do not understand why they appoint a former chief of staff to a fact finding committee set up to investigate our allegations against the Israeli police and their practices against our people. There is also a message, which we reject, in the fact that one of the committee members is an expert on terrorist organizations," he said - Albawaba.com
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)