Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has launched an investigation into three Balad Knesset members’ recent visit with the families of Palestinian terrorists who attacked police, the Jerusalem Post reported Sunday. The attorney general’s office instructed the police to collect information about the visit, but indicated no action would be taken against the three members of the Israeli Arab political party serving in the national legislature until it receives a police report, the newspaper said.
Knesset members Basel Ghattas, Jamal Zahalke and Haneen Zoabi reportedly visited the families of 10 slain terrorists whose bodies had not yet been released for burial. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the government would not release the bodies until it could be assured that the funerals would not turn into political demonstrations.
The Balad Knesset members have said they were visiting the families only to discuss helping them to recover the bodies of their sons, who were killed while attempting to assail border police officers. Legal observers told the Jerusalem Post they believed it was unlikely criminal charges would be filed against the Knesset members because it was unclear whether the officials broke Israeli law.
But Netanyahu said the Knesset members who met with the terrorists’ families are “building walls of hate,” as the government takes significant steps to better integrate Israeli Arabs into the country’s social fabric. If members of either the U.S. Congress or the U.K. Parliament had met with white nationalist groups, the response to those officials would not be favorable, either, Netanyahu said at the opening of a weekly cabinet meeting early Sunday.
“I think there would justifiably have been a great outcry,” Netanyahu said. The prime minister spoke to Mandelblit about what changes can be made to existing laws to ensure meetings with terrorists’ families are not sanctioned in the future.
“This is important because it says something about the type of society we want,” the Jerusalem Post quoted Netanyahu as saying.