Israeli Arab Lawmaker Accuses the Knesset of Discrimination

An Arab Knesset member has accused the Israeli parliament of discrimination against him because of efforts to restrict his access to classified documents dealing with the Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic intelligence agency.

Hashem Mahmid of the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality is a member of the Knesset’s State Control Committee and was asked by the committee’s chairman to sign a pledge that he will not attend meetings dealing with the Shin Bet or look at minutes of the meeting that deal with the agency.

Mahmid contends he is being discriminated against because he is an Arab and has threatened to take his complaint to the Supreme Court.

“If I don’t have the same privileges as other Knesset members,” Mahmid said at a news conference, “I want the Knesset to say officially that Arab Knesset members aren’t trustworthy on security and on ethnic grounds.”

Mahmid said he would not agree to the request by the committee chairman, Likud Knesset member Dan Tichon.

Mahmid said Likud Knesset members and other members of the hawkish opposition treat him like a “second-class” Knesset member and that the Labor-led ruling coalition “does nothing to uphold my rights as a parliamentarian.”

Mahmid, whose party is not part of the governing coalition, said he expected the Knesset to trust his “common sense decisions” on meetings he attends and documents he wishes to review.

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