In the drama yesterday, as Netanyahu struggled in vain to cobble together a government, there was a legitimately hilarious moment I want to share with you. As noted yesterday, in the final hours, Netanyahu was offering crazy deals to all sorts of people – most notably Labor MKs – if only he could get one more seat (for a total of 61 out of 120) for his government AND who would support legislation to make him immune from prosecution. The appeals to Labor MKs were the crucial sign that he was willing to bargain away virtually anything to get that last seat and immunity.
So while all this is happening, Hadash MK Ayman Odeh goes up to the speaker’s rostrum in the Knesset to epically troll Netanyahu.
A little background is necessary. Odeh is head of Hadash and had been head of the “Joint List” in the last Knesset. That was a joint list of all the major Arab parties in Israel running together to maximize their representation. Hadash is not actually an Arab or Arab nationalist party, though it is now a largely Arab party in voter composition. Hadash is actually a far-left or socialist party that is a descendent of the Israeli Communist Party. Odeh is from an Arab Muslim background in the north of Israel (Haifa) but describes himself as having transcended both ethnicity and religion, which of course define Israeli politics. In any case, Odeh is one of the most interesting and refreshing figures in all of Israeli politics.
So he gets up when everything is falling apart and basically brings the house down by faux claiming that he’s just agreed to join Netanyahu’s coalition and give his decisive vote because Bibi has agreed to … well, you can read for yourself.
“I have a dramatic announcement and I apologize to my fellow MKs that I didn’t let you know ahead of time. Seven minutes ago Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to me and he said he is willing to withdraw from the occupied territories and also to cancel the nation-state law, and that he supports not only civil equality but also national equality, and that he’s willing to recognize the Nakba and fix the historical wrong – in return for the immunity law.”
The whole place basically erupts in laughter. You can see some of it here but of course it’s not in English so some of it is lost in translation …