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Vicious Exchange in the Knesset

One of the most venomous exchanges recorded in Israel’s parliamentary annals erupted in the Knesset Tuesday, at a stormy session of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

The main protagonists were Yossi Sarid, firebrand of the leftist Citizens Rights Movement, and Geula Cohen, outspoken member of the rightwing party Tehiya.

“Fifth columnist,” Cohen shouted at Sarid, to which he responded, “liar and madwoman-you ought to be locked up.”

Senior Israel Defense Force officers present to brief the committee sheepishly left the hearing room as the spat ascended into mega-decibels, with other members powerless to soothe the passions.

The episode began, according to sources present, when Cohen implied that Sarid, during a committee visit to the West Bank, had told local Palestinians that their uprising was a spur for the peace process.

As the exchange proceeded, Cohen shouted that the Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic intelligence service, ought to deal with Sarid. He retorted that if he were the Shin Bet, he would have Cohen put in a straightjacket.

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