MK assailed for saying kidnappers not terrorists

Politicians call for Hanin Zoabi’s removal from the Knesset; Balad lawmaker later says she doesn’t support perpetrators

Balad MK Hanin Zoabi (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Balad MK Hanin Zoabi (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Israeli politicians from the right and center roundly slammed Balad MK Hanin Zoabi, some even calling for her to be removed from her post and prosecuted, after she said on Tuesday that the Palestinian kidnappers of three Israeli teens were “not terrorists.”

“Not only are the kidnappers terrorists, but so is Hanin Zoabi,” Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman wrote on his Facebook page. “The sentence of the kidnappers and that of Zoabi, who is inciting and encouraging abductions, must be the same.”

Zoabi had said on Tel Aviv Radio that the kidnappers “are not terrorists; they are people who do not see any way of changing their situation and they have to resort to these measures until Israel sobers up a bit, until the citizens of Israel and the public sober up and relate to the suffering of others.”

Zoabi later clarified in an interview on Israel Radio that she does “not support the kidnappers, but [kidnapping] is the result of frustration.”

“You ask about mothers, ask me about the mothers of prisoners, ask about prisoners who are being held without trial, without being guilty,” she said.

Right-wing politicians called for Zoabi to lose her position in the Knesset.

“Hanin Zoabi continues her consistent practice: to support terrorists and prove that she does not deserve to be a citizen of the State of Israel, let alone an MK,” Housing Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) said in a statement posted to Facebook. “She is a reward for terror within the Knesset, a situation that would not be accepted in any other democratic state in the world.”

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud) said her comments constituted incitement and fellow Likud MK Ofir Akunis said he would renew his efforts, unsuccessful in the last Knesset, to have Zoabi expelled from parliament.

MK Miri Regev (Likud) said Zoabi should be “expelled to Gaza and stripped of her [Knesset] immunity.”

MK Moti Yogev (Jewish Home) said he intended to remove Zoabi from her parliament position because “her positions seem to be closer to the terrorists, so she should be with them rather than in the Israeli Knesset.”

From the political center, Yesh Atid MK Aliza Lavie condemned Zoabi’s remarks and called her a hypocrite.

“How can you, an MK in the Knesset of the State of Israel, dare come to the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women and and Gender Equality and talk about human rights?” she said. “Shame on you. This is not how you talk when innocent children are kidnapped by terrorists. You do not deserve to be an MK… Our children also have human rights.”

Hatnua MK Elazar Stern also condemned the remarks, but noted that he is sure that she does not represent the position of Arab Israelis.

Eyal Yifrach, 19, Naftali Frankel, 16, and Gil-ad Shaar, 16, were kidnapped late Thursday night south of Jerusalem. They were last seen at a hitchhiking post in the Etzion bloc at around 10 p.m.. The Israeli government has pointed the finger at Hamas and said that it holds the Palestinian Authority responsible for their well-being.

Since the kidnapping Israel has been conducting a massive manhunt in the West Bank and has arrested some 200 Palestinians, including dozens of senior Hamas members.

MKs sought to bar Zoabi from running for the Knesset in the 2013 elections, in part because she participated in the Mavi Marmara flotilla that sought to break Israel’s security blockade on Gaza, but they were overruled by the Supreme Court.

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