Hadash lawmaker Ayman Odeh, the chair of the Joint List, called on Saturday, August 17, for former Prime Minister Ehud Barak to withdraw from the Knesset race. This comes after a tweet by Barak, in which he wrote: “Arden, Petah Tikva is not Umm al-Hiran; citizens are allowed to demonstrate.”
Odeh condemned Barak, who is number 10 on the Democratic Union slate, for a post, he wrote on Facebook in which he called on Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan not to stifle escalating protests against Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit in Petah Tikva.
The ex-premier was referring to the Arab-Bedouin village in the Negev that has been at the center of massive struggle over the past few years ahead of its planned demolition. Last year, authorities closed the case against police officers who assaulted Odeh during the planned eviction of Umm al-Hiran’s residents.
In his response, Odeh said: “Barak, in Umm al-Hiran, people are also allowed to demonstrate. Nineteen years have passed since you were responsible for the killing of thirteen Arab citizens because they took to the streets. We learned the hard way that there are more important things than just Bibi politics.”
At the same time, he also addressed Barak’s apology for the deadly events of October 2000, saying that: “We have already seen your cynical apology for the sake of the elections; real responsibility is to step down from the public stage. Replacing the right-wing government and fighting for a future of partnership should leave you in the past.”
The police arrested seven on Friday night, August 16, during anti-corruption protests near the home of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit. Officials said demonstrators had defied new guidelines, which forbid protests along Mandelblit’s route to and from his neighborhood synagogue. Following the incident dozens of people staged a protest outside Petah Tikva’s police station. Activists said police had arrested several more during the demonstration while treating them aggressively. Anti-corruption activists have been holding regular protests near Mandelblit’s home for years, demanding he indict far-right Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the corruption cases into his affairs.
Hundreds of people demonstrated again in Petah Tikva Saturday night, August 17, demanding an investigation into alleged police brutality towards protesters a day earlier, among them several elderly persons. MK Ofer Cassif (Hadash) condemned the arrests and expressed regret “for this flagrant violation of the freedom of protest.”