Balad MK Hanin Zoabi is once again in trouble with the law – this time for driving without a license, and for talking on a cellphone while driving – both offenses that could entail major fines as well as jail time. As a Knesset member, Zoabi generally has immunity from prosecution, but according to the letter of the law, that immunity is in force only for actions that she takes as a Knesset representative; her new offenses are not included in that.
The incident occurred Monday night on Road 65, which passes through numerous Arab towns and villages, including Umm el-Faham and Ar’ara. Zoabi was stopped by police who observed her speaking on the phone. When they stopped her, they discovered that her license had been suspended as well for previous offenses.
A spokesperson for Zoabi said that her license had actually not been suspended, but that it was still in effect through next May. “However, she is supposed to attend a safe-driver course for previous driving offenses, which she has not done yet,” the spokesperson said, adding that “she was not speaking on the phone, she just put the phone into her car’s charger. Police refused to believe her on this point.”
Zoabi has a long and checkered history in regard to obeying the law. She was the impetus for the passage of the Disbarment Law, which allows MKs to throw out a Knesset member who has “gone bad” if 90 MKs vote that member out. Zoabi is well known for her outrageous comments on Israel and the IDF.
In a Knesset speech that got her ejected from the plenum in July, Zoabi called IDF soldiers “murderers,” and demanded that the Israeli government apologize to the “political activists” aboard the Mavi Marmara, including herself. At least 60 complaints on the comments were filed by MKs with the Knesset Ethics Committee.
According to Zoabi, her position that IDF soldiers are murderers “is a national consensus and a worldwide consensus. It is not just the Palestinians who feel this way, but the entire world. If I were standing toe to toe with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on an international podium, who do you think would get the applause?”
A recent report on Channel Two said that United Arab List head Ayman Odeh has been seeking to get Zoabi out of his party altogether. A report quoted Odeh as asking senior Knesset officials for advice on “how to get rid of her.” According to the report, Odeh told them that Zoabi “is causing us a great deal of damage. I want her out of the party.”
Odeh, who according to the report has also had enough of Zoabi’s antics, reportedly told MKs that it was their own fault that Zoabi got elected to the Knesset at all. “Without the change you Jews made in raising the minimum number of votes needed to enter the Knesset, she would not be in. Because of the increase, all the Arab parties had to get together into a single list. It’s your fault Zoabi is an MK,” he reportedly told MKs.