Following a wave of complaints about inflammatory comments made by MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad), the Knesset Ethics Committee ruled Tuesday that all of her parliamentary privileges will be suspended, except voting, for the next six months.
Zoabi will not be able to make speeches, submit parliamentary questions or initiate debates in committees or the plenary.
Among her more odious statements, she defended the abduction of the three Israeli teenagers (their murder was not yet known): “[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.”
More recently, Zoabi acted aggressively toward police officers during a demonstration in Haifa against the IDF.
Knesset Speaker Yuri Edelstein also submitted a complaint, in which he informed the committee that he had received many requests for disciplinary action against Zoabi because of “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.”
Also Tuesday, a Knesset poll found 89% of Jewish Israelis think Zoabi’s citizenship should be revoked, while only 10% said it shouldn’t.
The Balad MK argued that her comments about the three teens were taken out of context. However, she was unapologetic about her views in general.
“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.”
In its ruling, the Ethics Committee wrote:
“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 committee noted that the six-month ban is the harshest punishment it is authorized to impose.