Sheikh Raed Salah, head of the Islamic Movement in Northern Israel, described recent threats by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to "behead" Arab Israelis suspected of disloyalty to Israel as a "declaration of war."
"Lieberman's statements are not even worthy of comment," Salah said in a Tuesday interview with The Anadolu Agency.
"He is a reckless person whose statements amount to a declaration of war on the Muslim world and on the Palestinian people," he added.
On Sunday, Lieberman, leader of the right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu Party, said Arab citizens opposed to Israel should have their heads cut off with an axe.
"Whoever is with us should get everything; but whoever is against us… We have to lift up an axe and remove his head, otherwise we won't survive here," Lieberman said at a campaign rally.
Lieberman, who has previously called for banning Salah's pro-resistance Islamic Movement, also said that anyone who raised the black flag associated with "Nakba Day" – intended to symbolize mourning for Israel's establishment in 1948 – did "not belong" in Israel.
Salah, for his part, defended his movement's decision not to participate in upcoming Israeli Knesset polls on March 17, unlike the movement's branch in southern Israel.
"The Knesset is a tool of the Zionist project that aims to... legitimize the historical persecution and discrimination that Palestinians have suffered," Salah said.
"Our experience with fielding Arab MPs over 19 Knesset rounds has yielded almost zero benefit to [Palestinians in Israel]," Salah said.
"Israel uses the Arab presence in the Knesset to whitewash its ugly face in front of the international community," he added.
Israel refers to Palestinians who remained in historical Palestine after the establishment of Israel in 1948 as "Israeli Arabs."
There are some 1.6 million Arabs in Israel who account for roughly 20 percent of the country's total population, according to Israeli figures.
Salah was slapped with a suspended six-month jail term by an Israeli court last year – and a $2,600 fine – for "obstructing the work" of Israeli police in 2011.
He is currently banned from traveling by the Israeli authorities.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.