Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posted a video on Facebook Thursday showing a verbal spat between him and an Arab Member of Knesset that took place the night before over which people inhabited the Holy Land first – the Jews or the Palestinians.
He headlined the video, “The Conflict in Under a Minute.”
The exchange began when Member of Knesset Jamal Zahalka who heads the progressive Balad Party (National Democratic Assembly) rejected Jewish claims to the Holy Land, saying "We [Palestinians] were here before you. I was here before you. And we will still be here after you."
Other Members of Knesset are seen in the audience protesting Zahalka.
Netanyahu then approached the podium and said, "I did not plan to speak, but I heard Member of Knesset Zahalka’s statement. 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."
After making that short statement, Netanyahu slapped the podium and stepped down. Seated lawmakers are seen in the video applauding enthusiastically.
Though he doesn’t use Twitter that frequently – his last post was in early July – Netanyahu linked to the video and tweeted, “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!”
Israel Hayom explains the background which led to the exchange:
Late Wednesday night, the Knesset voted on a bill to make the controversial "referendum law" a basic law, which would necessitate a national referendum on any peace deal that would require territorial withdrawals.
During the plenum debate, Arab MK Jamal Zahalka (National Democratic Assembly) said that the bill was irrelevant because it referred to "occupied territory, and as such, what applies is international law; the referendum should apply to the nations of the world."
Zahalka was subsequently heckled by Habayit Hayehudi [Jewish Home Party] lawmakers, who said, "You are the foreigners in this land," to which Zahalka responded, "We were here before you and we will be here after you."
Israel Hayom reports that Zahalka later issued a clarification that his statement was directed “against racists, not Jews.”
The Balad Party opposes the concept of Israel as a Jewish state, and promotes the idea of a bi-national state for Jews and Arabs.
The subject of the verbal exchange - that is, the Jewish historical connection to the Land of Israel - was a key theme of Netanyahu’s address to the United Nations General Assembly last September.
"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,” he said then.
“The masses of our people never gave up the dream 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,” Netanyahu added.
"We will never be uprooted again," he said.
Divorcing Jews from their ancient homeland is a common theme among Palestinian officials, who regularly accuse Israel of “Judaizing Jerusalem.” Israeli archaeological officials have for years been protesting Muslim religious authorities in Jerusalem for discarding valuable Jewish artifacts in an effort to erase evidence of Jewish history in the Holy Land, including on the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism.
Here is the video from the Knesset Wednesday night: