Knesset votes to uphold unprecedented suspension of MK Haneen Zoabi

From: The Office of MK Haneen Zoabi
Press release
29 October 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE USE

68 MK’s voted against MK Zoabi’s appeal, 16 supported Zoabi and 1 MK abstained. 

MK Haneen Zoabi speaking at an AMP 2011 Nakba Day event.

MK Haneen Zoabi speaking at an AMP 2011 Nakba Day event.

The Israeli Knesset today voted to uphold the six-month suspension of Palestinian Arab MK Haneen Zoabi, the longest such suspension ever imposed in the parliament’s history.

MK Zoabi appealed to the Supreme Court earlier this month against the suspension, arguing that it was political persecution and prevented her from carrying out her parliamentary duties on behalf of her voters.

The Knesset Ethics Committee imposed the suspension on July 29, in the midst of a strongly anti-Arab climate during Israel’s 50-day attack on Gaza, Operation Protective Edge.

Under direction from the Supreme Court, MK Zoabi appealed to the Knesset’s full plenum in an attempt to exhaust all available channels for lifting the suspension before returning to the court.

Members of the Ethics Committee had argued that the suspension was deserved because of comments MK Zoabi made before and during Operation Protective Edge. Those included a Radio interview in June in which she disagreed with he actions of those behind the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank but refused to denounce them simplistically as “terrorists”. The teenagers were later found murdered.

In a further indication of the efforts to make an example of MK Zoabi for her political views and her opposition to the attack on Gaza, a criminal investigation was subsequently opened against her in a different matter.

She is accused of incitement for allegedly”humiliating” policemen, during the massive arrest of Arab teenager protestors.’ The police and state prosecution have recommended that she be indicted, and the case will now being considered by the Attorney-General.

“Israel’s President, Reuven Rivlin, last week described Israel as a ‘sick society’ for its racist policies and attitudes,” said MK Zoabi. “It is not about sickness or disease, it’s about a cultivated political racist culture, and an apartheid legal system, which led inevitably  to the latest anti-democratic efforts to silence me.

“The real incitement has been a flood of ugly statements from senior government figures since the summer – as well as regular acts violence they have provoked on the street – against  Palestinian citizens. No one is being suspended from the Knesset for that, nor investigated.”

During her speech before the general assembly, Zoabi emphasis that “to be in the Knesset’ is not a favor  from the Israeli authorities nor from the state, and that she drew her rights from being an indigenous people, and Israel has no contribution in this fact”

Also she stated that the problem lies in the Israeli Racism, oppression,  and occupation, and not on her criticism against such racism,and that her political criticism are part of freedom of speech, and that she “didn’t cross the borders” of any law or ethics, except the borders of rigid and racist consensus’

Another Knesset committee, the Law, Constitution and Justice Committee, this month submitted two bills intended to target MK Zoabi. Both were initiated by a government minister, Faina Kirschenbaum. The first would deny anyone the right to stand for the Knesset if they are found to have supported “an act of terrorism”, while the second would strip them of their citizenship.

Arab MKs from MK Zoabi’s Balad party boycotted the opening session of the Knesset on Monday, following the summer recess. Other MKs gave speeches condemning MK Zoabi’s treatment.

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