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Arab Knesset Members Boycott Session Marking Partition Anniversary

Arab members of Israel’s parliament boycotted Monday a special Knesset session commemorating the 60th anniversary of the 1947 United Nations decision to partition British Mandate Palestine into an Arab state and a Jewish state.

The decision effectively gave international backing to the creation of the State of Israel.

All but one Arab Knesset member, Nadia Hilou of Labor, decided not to attend the session, including her fellow party member Culture and Sport Minister Ghaleb Majadele.

More than a third of Knesset members were absent during the session, including Kadima’s Ruhama Avraham, who is the minister charged with organizing Israel’s 60th Independence Day celebrations in the spring, and Communications Minister Ariel Atias of Shas.

In his address to the plenum, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, made the right decision in agreeing to partition. “My father opposed partition and was wrong,” Olmert said. “Ben-Gurion was right — there was a need to accept the possible.

“The choice, both 60 years ago and today, is between a Jewish state on part of the Land of Israel and a binational state on all of the Land of Israel,” the prime minister continued. “That is the choice we are faced with today — the existence of two nation-states, Israel and Palestine, in the Land of Israel.”

Olmert stressed that the government would continued to “fight for the status of Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel.”

“I don’t underestimate the difficulties, I don’t diminish the threats, and I will never compromise on Israel’s security,” he said. “But as long as there remains even a chance of peace, I will exhaust it fully.”

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