Prosecutors seek trial for firebrand Arab MK over cop threats
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Prosecutors seek trial for firebrand Arab MK over cop threats

Balad party members dismiss move against Hanin Zoabi as a PR stunt; MKs vote to maintain her 6-month ban from Knesset activities

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Arab-Israeli parliament member Hanin Zoabi seen during a special press conference of Arab MKs at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, October 2014. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Arab-Israeli parliament member Hanin Zoabi seen during a special press conference of Arab MKs at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, October 2014. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

State prosecutors have recommended that Arab MK Hanin Zoabi be put on trial for threats against two policemen, but a final decision on the matter still rests with Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, Channel 10 reported on Tuesday.

The report came a day before Knesset members voted overwhelmingly to uphold a six-month ban on parliamentary activities for the outspoken MK Wednesday.

Zoabi’s fellow Balad party members said the move to prosecute the MK was not significant and was just aimed at grabbing headlines.

“There is nothing new in the situation at the moment and the prosecutors’ decision is only a public relations announcement aimed at the news reports,” the party said in a statement, according to a Channel 10 report.

In August police recommended that Zoabi be put on trial for incitement, threats and maligning a civil servant after questioning her for hours over an incident in which she insulted two policemen. At the time Zoabi threatened that, if put on trial, she would make the hearings “the most political trial in the State of Israel.”

Weinstein decided to open an investigation against Zoabi after two policemen complained that, during hearings on extending the detention of Israeli-Arabs who demonstrated against Operation Protective Edge, she insulted them with a spiteful outburst.

According to Ynet, Zoabi called the two Arab Israeli policemen “collaborators with the oppressors of their own people” and said that “they should be used to wipe the floor.”

During a stormy session on Wednesday the Knesset voted against an appeal by Zoabi to reverse a decision by the Knesset Ethics Committee banning her from parliamentary meetings for six months because of comments she made about the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers and anti-Israel editorials she wrote during the summer conflict with Hamas.

“I didn’t cross any lines, neither red nor orange,” Zoabi said ahead of the ballot, in which 68 MKs supported leaving the ban in place and 16 voted against.

Two MKs were removed from the Knesset assembly hall during heated arguments that broke between MKs as Zoabi presented her case and Ethics Committee chair MK Yitzhak Cohen explained the justification for her exclusion.

“It has never happened that an MK was punished for something that she said,” Zoabi declared. “I have every right to be different from you, both politically and culturally.”

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein (Photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein (Photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

In June, Zoabi said the kidnappers of three Israeli teens later found killed were “not terrorists.” Following the abduction of Naftali Fraenkel, 16; Gil-ad Shaar, 16; and Eyal Yifrach, 19, on June 12, suspicions quickly pointed toward Hamas operatives as being behind the attack.

Earlier this month Zoabi petitioned the High Court of Justice over the Ethics Committee decision and asked for it to be annulled on the grounds that the committee had overstepped its authority in punishing an MK for expressing a political opinion that did not violate the ethical rules of the Knesset.

Zoabi also appealed for help from the Inter-Parliamentary Union, an international organization of parliaments that promotes democratic values.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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