Thursday, September 07, 2006

Knesset Members Visit Damascus

Balad MK Jamal Zahalqah

Two current and two former members of the Israeli parliament have arrived in Damascus, where they will be meeting with high level Syrian government officials, journalists, and intellectuals. The Israeli delegates, Knesset members Jamal Zahalqah, Wasal Taha, and former MKs Muhamad Hasan Kna'an and Muhamad Me'ari, are all members of the Balad Party (National Democratic Alliance). MK Zahalqah called the visit "a realization of the right of the Arabs in Israel to maintain relations with the Arab nations," (see Ha'aretz). The trip is supposed to signal solidarity with the Lebanese people in particular, but Beirut is not on the itinerary.

In 2001, Balad chairman Azmi Bishara visited Damascus. In the wake of his trip, the Knesset passed a law banning MKs from visiting enemy states.


Matityahu said...

Why not ? Zahalka and his colleagues should be allowed to travel to Syria or other places as members of other (democratic) parlaments do. What if a Lebanese (or Syrian) member of Parlament would like to visit Israel - should (s)he be jailed after returning home ?
But the Knesset should insist on transparency of such visits and on a report of their talks. Such visits could serve as confidence-building measures, provided that it is absolutely clear that treason or espionage will be punished.

Amos said...

I was just reporting. I'm not really opposed to their visit, although it's probably not so good that they are breaking the law. I wish they would serve as mediators of some sort, but somehow I don't think that is really what they are up to. This is based merely on my observations of Zahalqa, in particular, in the Knesset.

I think it's a safe bet to say that there would be serious consequences for Syrian or Lebanese members of parliament who visit Israel. I think that there would be even more serious consequences for a Jewish member of the Syrian or Lebanese parliament ... oh wait, there aren't any. I think Iran has one though. After what happened to those Jews in Shiraz, I'm sure that Iranian-Jewish MP can't wait to lead a delegation to Israel.