A dispute arose in the Israeli Knesset Wednesday night over who had the greater claim to the Holy Land by virtue of settling there first — the Jews or the Palestinians. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu settled the matter with just a few words.
Netanyahu posted a YouTube video of the dustup on his Facebook page Thursday, which began when an Arab knesset member, Jamal Zahalka who said, “We [Palestinians] were here before you. I was here before you. And we will still be here after you,” according to Israel Hayom. http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=11099
While other members of the Israeli legislature loudly protest Zahalka’s statement, Netanyahu approached the podium and said, “I did not plan to speak, but I heard Member of Knesset Zahalka’s statement,” he began.
“You said, ‘We were here before you and we’ll be here after you’re gone.’ The first part is not true and the second part will never happen.”
Netanyahu then slapped the podium and stepped down. Seated lawmakers are seen in the video applauding enthusiastically.
He followed his Facebook entry up with a tweet:
The conflict twitterized: MK Zahalka: We were here B4 U & will B here after U. PM Netanyahu: 1st part isn’t true & 2nd part won’t happen!
— PM of Israel (@IsraeliPM) August 1, 2013
Israel Hayom noted that Netanyahu spoke of this very issue at the U.N. General Assembly in 2012:
The Jewish people have lived in the land of Israel for thousands of years. Even after most of our people were exiled from it, Jews continued to live in the land of Israel throughout the ages. The masses of our people never gave up the dreamed of returning to our ancient homeland. Defying the laws of history, we did just that. We ingathered the exiles, restored our independence and rebuilt our national life. The Jewish people have come home.
We will never be uprooted again.
Zahalka later clarified that his words were directed “against racists, not Jews.”
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