Hanin Zoabi suspended from Knesset for six months

Balad MK who is under investigation for incitement is banned by ethics committee from participating in debates

Balad MK Hanin Zoabi protesting at a Haifa demonstration against the IDF's operation in the Gaza Strip, July 2014 (photo credit: Channel 2 screen capture)
Balad MK Hanin Zoabi protesting at a Haifa demonstration against the IDF's operation in the Gaza Strip, July 2014 (photo credit: Channel 2 screen capture)

The Knesset Ethics Committee on Tuesday suspended Balad MK Hanin Zoabi from participating in debates on the Knesset floor for six months.

Zoabi, from the Arab city of Nazareth, is under investigation for saying that the killers of three Israeli teens in June were not terrorists. She is also under investigation for accosting a police officer in Nazareth.

On Friday, Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein instructed police to launch a criminal investigation into Zoabi’s actions, on suspicion of inciting others to violence and insulting two police officers.

At least one police officer said Zoabi, a lawmaker from the Balad party, had used offensive language against him on July 6.

An officer of the Nazareth police department said that Zoabi approached him and another officer at the Nazareth Magistrate’s Court and “began making highly offensive remarks and addressing people there in a manner which raises suspicion of insulting a civil servant and incitement to violence,” the police said in a statement on July 9, after it recommended starting the investigation.

The statement did not say what Zoabi is believed to have told the officers.

Last week, thousands of demonstrators in Haifa, led by Zoabi, clashed with police as they attempted to block several roads in the coastal city during a rally against the IDF’s ongoing ground incursion in the Gaza Strip.

Some of the protesters were reported to have waved Palestinian flags as they chanted slogans welcoming Hamas rocket fire at Tel Aviv. The demonstrators also shouted out slogans against Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Haifa police handcuffed Zoabi for unruly behavior at the demonstration. She was released thanks to her parliamentary immunity after a senior police officer recognized her.

A number of police officers and protesters, among them Balad MK Jamal Zahalka, who also took part in the rally, were lightly injured and received medical treatment at the spot.

Zoabi, who participated in the 2010 flotilla sail to Gaza organized by the Islamic IHH group in Turkey, recently angered right-wing lawmakers with articles she penned that they interpreted as advice to Hamas on how to defeat Israel and as a call for violence against Israel.

“The Israelis want a short campaign, the civilian population cannot stomach a prolonged conflict and there are many surprises not only on the military level but also with regard to the number and range of the rockets,” she wrote in an op-ed for Felesteen, an Arab-language publication. “We must declare popular resistance instead of security coordination, besiege ‘Israel’ instead of negotiating with it and unite instead of splinter,” she wrote.

In the article, the Jewish state’s name appeared in quotation marks — a style used by some Arab writers to refer to Israel without implying recognition of its legitimacy.

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