Several Israeli officials waged a new incitement campaign on Monday against members of the National Democratic Assembly, or Balad Party, including MKs Hanin Zoabi, Jamal Zahalka and Basil Ghattas, for visiting Qatar and meeting with a former colleague, General Director of the Arab Centre for Research and Policy Studies Dr Azmi Bishara.
Al-Araby Al-Jadeed news website quoted Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who criticised the visit, as saying: “The Balad deputies represented by Zahalka and Zoabi are a fifth column who work against Israel and must be prevented from participating in the next Knesset elections.” Meanwhile, MKs on the Israeli right demanded to put the Arab MKs on trial for visiting “a hostile state that sponsors terrorism”.
The news website noted that Israeli newspapers and televisions channels have also joined the incitement campaign and accused the party’s members of “accepting a funded visit to Qatar, which sponsors terrorism and Hamas”.
Israel claims the State of Qatar sponsors terrorism because it supports the Palestinian resistance factions and launched a joint initiative with Turkey to ensure that all the demands of the Palestinian people and resistance are met.
Encouraged by official bodies, Israeli media have waged an incitement campaign against Qatar over the past few weeks for supporting the Palestinian resistance factions during the assault on Gaza, while the Israeli government announced that it would accept neither the Qatari nor Turkish efforts to reach a ceasefire agreement with the Palestinian factions there.
Israel has also sought to replace Qatar’s contribution to the reconstruction projects in the Gaza Strip with Saudi Arabia, in an attempt to reduce its impact in the enclave.
The Israeli incitement campaign was accompanied an Egyptian media campaign against Bishara, which included a threat to assassinate him after the Egyptian intelligence and Israeli bodies accused him of assisting Hamas on how to confront Israel in the media.
Al-Araby Al-Jadeed quoted Balad’s leader, MK Zahalka, as saying that the Israeli incitement campaign against his party comes as Israel loses its balance “due to its failure to achieve the goals of the criminal war on Gaza”.
Zahalka continued, “This attack is another manifestation of the prevailing hysterical, racist and fascist state in Israel,” stressing that: “incitement does not shake us and we reject what Israel dictates to us regarding the nature of our relationship with our Arab brothers, even if Israel was angry at Al-Jazeera channel’s role and Qatar’s support for Gaza as well as the Palestinian resistance’s demands. We see this as a source of pride.”
He added, “At a time when many abandoned the Palestinians during the Israeli aggression, Qatar stood by them.”
Commenting on the incitement campaign against Bishara personally, Zahalka said: “It seems that Bishara continues to anger them and stir their feelings of hostility and hatred against him, which is evidence that he is doing his Palestinian national duty and does what benefits his people and angers his enemies.”