Israeli lawmakers across the spectrum voted 68-16 Wednesday to uphold a six-month ban imposed in July against Balad MK Hanin Zoabi on all legislative activity except voting.
Zoabi tried to appeal the ban on Wednesday, three months after being suspended by the Knesset Ethics Committee for incitement.
Numerous lawmakers – including Speaker Yuli Edelstein – filed complaints with the Committee about Zoabi’s support for Hamas rocket attacks against the State of Israel during Operation Protective Edge, and her statement that the Hamas abduction and murder of three Israeli yeshiva teens was not terrorism.
Zoabi has since traveled to Qatar – an enemy state which supports Hamas and its founding entity, the Muslim Brotherhood – and met with Balad party founder, former MK Azmi Bishara.
Bishara fled Israel as he was being investigated possible acts of espionage on behalf of Lebanon’s Hezbollah terror organization during the 2006 Second Lebanon War.
In 2010, Zoabi also participated in the illegal flotilla attempt to breach Israel’s maritime blockade of Gaza, by joining terror activists from Turkey aboard the IHH-sponsored Mavi Marmara vessel. The flotilla was stopped by the IDF in international waters.
The following year she was banned from the Knesset for two months after physically attacking an usher for trying to remove her from the hall when she refused to go when ordered to do so.
The Israeli Arab lawmaker, who has consistently maintained a position as a representative of the Palestinian Authority Arab population – rather than that of an Arab Israeli – insisted in her appeal that she had the right to free speech.
“I speak to you as someone proud of being a daughter of this land,” Zoabi began. “There was not, and there will not be a person who can turn me, or my nation, into guests or strangers here.”
Zoabi said she knew it is hard for some Mks to hear her express her views or even to see her walk through the halls of the Knesset. But, she said, it is equally hard for her to see Arabs treated as the enemy.
The real issue, she said, is the difference in perspective: “You are annoyed that I use the words ‘occupation and war crimes” but it is the actual occupation and war crimes that trouble me the most.”
She was interrupted by an agitated Labor MK, Itzik Shmueli, who shouted that she crossed the line in speaking in such a way about Israeli soldiers, freedom of speech notwithstanding.
Shmueli, who refused to quiet down, was removed from the Knesset hall by Speaker Yuli Edelstein.
Further pushing the point, Zoabi added, “Yes, I crossed the lines of consensus – a warlike, aggressive, racist, populist, chauvinist, arrogant consensus.
“I must cross those lines. I am no Zionist, and that is within my legal right.
“I am a Palestinian, born in this land. Any person who supports the decision of the committee [against me] is against justice, equality and freedom of speech, and supports political persecution.
“Whoever stands silent joins the racists who do not want representation for the Arabs!”
Hana Levi Julian