Jerusalem (Jan. 21)
– A Druze Sheikh, Jaber Muadi, was inducted into the Knesset yesterday in a brief unannounced swearing-in ceremony protected by heavily armed guards because of threats against his life. Muadi replaced the late Sheikh Hamad Abu Rabia, the only Bedouin MK, who was murdered outside his Jerusalem hotel last week. Like Abu Rabia, he represents the United Arab List, a one-seat Knesset faction affiliated with the Labor Party, and has served as an MK in the past.
Elaborate precautions were taken because of the Bedouin tradition of blood feuds. Some circles believe Abu Rabia was slain because of a dispute between Bedouins and Druze over the seat he occupied. But Muadi claimed that dozens of Bedouin elders had urged him not to bow to threats and to take his rightful place in the Knesset. “I fear no man, only God,” he told reporters after he took the oath of office.
The swearing in of Muadi took the House by surprise inasmuch as there was no prior announcement. The debate over an election date was in full swing when Knesset Speaker Yitzhak Berman interrupted the proceedings and invited Muadi to the rostrum. He had arrived only minutes before in a 10-car convoy escorted by soldiers in jeeps. Muadi is the third Druze in the present Knesset–the others belong to Likud and the Ahva faction–but there is no Bedouin.
Meanwhile, the police are holding three brothers in connection with the murder of Abu Rabia.
Their names and other information has been withheld by court order. Two other suspects were released from custody yesterday. Six arrests were made within hours of the killing. The suspects initially were identified as Druze.