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Jerusalem - Israeli Palestinian Arab MK Zoabi Banned From Knesset For Six Months

Published on: July 29, 2014 09:42 AM
By: Jerusalem Post
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FILE - Arab parliament member Hanin Zoabi holds a press conference at the Israeli parliament on December 19, 2012. Photo by Miriam Alster/FLASh90 Jerusalem - MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad) will be banned from all parliamentary activity except voting for the next six months, following a Knesset Ethics Committee ruling Tuesday on complaints by Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and other lawmakers.

Zoabi’s punishment will take effect on Wednesday, the last day of voting before the Knesset goes on recess until October, at which point she will not be able to make speeches, submit parliamentary questions or initiate debates in committees or the plenary.

The Balad MK has a long history of controversial activity in and out of the Knesset, including participating on the 2010 Gaza flotilla on the infamous Mavi Marmara ship, which was stopped by IDF commandos. In 2011, she was banned from the Knesset by the Ethics Committee for two months after she physically attacked an usher who tried to remove her from the plenum for incessantly interrupting Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who referred to her in his speech. The Ethics Committee received many complaints about Zoabi in recent weeks about her, saying the kidnapping of Eyal Yifrah, Naftali Fraenkel and Gil-Ad Shaer in Gush Etzion in June, who later were found murdered, is not terrorism – which attorney general Yehuda Weinstein decided is not criminal incitement - and for her support for Hamas rocket attacks on Israel during Operation Protective Edge.

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Edelstein also submitted a complaint, telling the committee that many citizens appealed to him to take action against Zoabi because “her statements bordering on incitement encouraging violence and supporting terrorism.” The Knesset Speaker specifically mentioned an article Zoabi published on a Hamas website in which she encouraged Palestinians to take part in “popular resistance” and called to “put Israel under siege instead of negotiating.” He also quoted Zoabi’s statements in a radio interview following the kidnapping of the three boys: “[The kidnappers] are not terrorists. They have to use these means, until Israel will wake up a little, until the citizens of Israel and Israeli society will wake up and feel the suffering of the other.” Finally, Edelstein sent the committee a video in which Zoabi displays aggressive behavior toward police officers during a demonstration in Haifa against IDF activities.

“I know the committee consistently defends freedom of expression for MKs in general and specifically for those who represent minorities, and as Knesset Speaker, I think this is the right and appropriate policy. Still, I think that MK Zoabi crossed the line long ago when it comes to appropriate behavior for a lawmaker,” Edelstein wrote. The Knesset Speaker continued: “The many complaints I received show this is not a ‘usual’ case of harsh or outrageous statements that happen from time to time in the Knesset, but continued provocative behavior that erodes the Knesset’s status.

“That is why I think the Ethics Committee should use its authority in a way that will send a message to MK Zoabi and the wider public that although freedom of political expression is a basic right, they cannot support terrorist organizations and encourage acts of terrorism,” he concluded.

The Ethics Committee pointed out in its decision that, when Weinstein said Zoabi’s comments on the three teens’ kidnapping are not criminal, he added that they could be unethical, as they are “especially harsh at the time they were said because, although she expressed reservations about the action of kidnapping, they could be understood as understanding and identification with it.” Zoabi responded to the committee that the complaints were spiteful and exemplify the “reigning culture of racism and the need to rule over the other and suppress the other’s political opinions.” The Balad MK said the Ethics Committee ignored the context of her comments about the three teens.

“It is too bad that the Knesset Speaker used a partial quote,” she wrote. “In any case, I admit that my political and parliamentary activity, like my declarations and opinions, represent political opinions and values that completely contradict those reflected in the complaints.

“I represent a vision of justice, freedom, equality and an uncompromising battle against racism, oppression, discrimination, dispossession and disenfranchisement…I will not give in to those who are trying to silence me, punish me and take revenge on me,” Zoabi added.

The Ethics Committee wrote that it seeks to avoid limiting freedom of political expression by MKs, even when their statements are outrageous, and expressions of harsh criticism in times of war must be allowed.

However, the committee added, there is a difference between legitimate criticism and encouraging Israel’s enemies and legitimizing terrorism against Israeli citizens.

“The public in Israel, like in any country, expects that the members of its parliament, who declare allegiance to the state, will not encourage those who attack it and want to kill its soldiers and citizens,” the Ethics Committee decision reads. “Criticism of the government [by an MK], harsh as it may be, should be made from the point of view of someone who wants the good of the country and its citizens and wants to influence policy.” As such, the committee decided that Zoabi’s comments and their timing were not legitimate and showed she identifies with enemies of Israel, and that the article she wrote can only be understood as calling to harm the State of Israel, its security and its basic interests.

Her words violated her pledge as an MK and hurt the Knesset and its image, the committee wrote, and as such, it gave her the harshest punishment it is able to give, a ban from all parliamentary activity except for voting for six months.



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Read Comments (12)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Jul 29, 2014 at 10:01 AM savtat Says:

She should be impeached and replaced with a member of her district that has respect for the rule of law. She is a traitor.

2

 Jul 29, 2014 at 10:02 AM stamm Says:

now we are talking!i hope this extends to the leftists who incite terrorism as well

3

 Jul 29, 2014 at 10:05 AM Israel patriot Says:

This MK's behavior is treason. How do they allow her to continue to be an MK? Is there any legal way to demote her and take away her status as member of Knesset? It seems ridiculous that a democratic country would tolerate such treasonous and treacherous behavior. This traitor needs to be removed from her seat permanently!

4

 Jul 29, 2014 at 10:23 AM SayIDidIt™ Says:

Why don't they just throw her out? This is so ridiculous!

5

 Jul 29, 2014 at 10:55 AM too much freedom Says:

what is an Israeli Palestinian? its Israeli arab if you want , there is no Palestine.
.And I would have voted to have her be a Human Shield for the terrorists that she so loves.no other country in the world would let their member of parliament spew hate against their own country and incite it's sworn enemies ...try that in a Arab country and you'll be hanged the next day

6

 Jul 29, 2014 at 10:56 AM SGMoish Says:

I ask of the suicidal nation Israel, why the heck do you have enemy haters of Jews sitting in the Knesset???? This is a Jewish state for Jews let the Arab Jew haters find another Arab country where they can can run for politics. Israel Knesset must be Jewish only otherwise how can you call it the Jewish state?

7

 Jul 29, 2014 at 11:11 AM stamm Says:

oops, i was hoping this is just the first step and they won't take her back. You think this is only for 6 months? oy vey

8

 Jul 29, 2014 at 11:36 AM Benjey Says:

Only six months she is not worth goat droppings

9

 Jul 29, 2014 at 12:04 PM Pops Says:

Put her in a tunnel and send her to Gaza where she belongs..

10

 Jul 29, 2014 at 02:38 PM Big Masmid Says:

why not 6 Years

11

 Jul 29, 2014 at 06:55 PM Reality check Says:

Reply to #5  
too much freedom Says:

what is an Israeli Palestinian? its Israeli arab if you want , there is no Palestine.
.And I would have voted to have her be a Human Shield for the terrorists that she so loves.no other country in the world would let their member of parliament spew hate against their own country and incite it's sworn enemies ...try that in a Arab country and you'll be hanged the next day

"No other country in the world would let their member of parliament spew hate against their own country..."

Seriously? Our country allowed Barack in the Senate and consequently in the White House.

12

 Jul 29, 2014 at 07:20 PM Anonymous Says:

Where else but in Israel can enemies of the state be members of its government?! How sick is this? Just how many Jews are sitting members of any Arab govt.? Zero. Sometimes Israel is so bent over backwards trying to forever prove their democracy and humanity that they become self destructive.

13

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