The first day of the Knesset winter session Monday was marred by petty political demonstrations.
When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took the podium to address the plenum, all 13 members of the Joint Arab List left the hall. This was in response to the coalition’s decision to “boycott” the Joint Arab List MK’s because they chose not to attend the funeral of former President Shimon Peres last month.
Prior to the incident, Coalition Chairman MK David Bitan (Likud), announced that the boycott was symbolic and would last one week. But Yisrael Beytenu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman said his party would continue the boycott for the duration of the 20th Knesset. Lieberman called the Joint Arab List a “representation of terrorist organizations in the Knesset.”
In a statement, the Joint Arab List said Netanyahu’s instructions to coalition members to remove themselves from listening to their speeches was an “unprecedented” move. It was the first time in the Knesset’s history that the coalition was “boycotting” a large faction representing nearly 20 percent of the country’s citizens.