Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein spoke out against MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad) for saying the kidnappers of three yeshiva students last weekend are not terrorists, but stopped short of removing her parliamentary immunity despite demands from dozens of MKs.
“I summarily reject Zoabi’s harmful statement and her foolish attempts to justify war crimes and terrorist organizations,” Edelstein said Tuesday.
In an interview with Radio Tel Aviv, Zoabi said the kidnappers live under occupation and “they’re people who don’t see any way to change their reality and they are forced to use these means until Israel will wake up a little until Israel will wake up a little, until Isr aeli citizens and society will wake up and feel the suffering of the other.”
“So an Israeli MK is openly justifying the kidnapping of Israeli boys?” the interviewer, Sharon Gal, asked.
“I’ m not surprised at all,” she responded.
“I’m surprised you’re still walking aro und freely,” Gal said, and Zoabi hung up on him.
Immediately after the interview, For eign Minister Avigdor Liberman said “not only are the kidnappers terrorists, Haneen Zoabi is a terrorist too.”
“The fate of the kidnappers and the fat e of the inciter who encourages kid napping, Haneen Zoabi, should be the same,” Liberman said.
Soon after, Knesset Committee for the Advancement of the Status of Wom en chairwoman Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid) asked Zoabi in a committee meeting: “How are [the kidnappers] not terrorists?” “Shut up, you don’t deserve to be a com mittee chairwoman. Are you a pol icewoman? You are a racist,” Zoabi shouted in response.
Later Tuesday, Lavie submitted an eth ics complaint against the Balad MK.
MK after MK called for action to be taken against Zoabi.
Deputy Interior Minister Faina Kir schenbaum wrote to Edelstein asking that he remove Zoabi’s diplomatic immunity so she can stand tri al for incitement and supporting terror.
Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat said she plans to demand Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein review what Zoabi said, which, she believes, breaks the law against incitement to violence or terror.
The law states that it is illegal to openly “call to act violently or commit an act of terror or praise, express admiration or encourage violence or terror, or support or identify with it.”
“Zoabi is not worthy to serve as an MK in Israel and she should be put on trial,” Livnat said. “When Zoabi participated in the Gaza flotilla along with armed terrorists, she said it was a humanitarian action. Now she says kid napping boys is legitimate and not terror. Put her on trial now!” Deputy Religious Affairs Minister Eli Ben-Dahan, MK Pnina Tamnu- Shata (Yesh Atid) and MK Eli Yishai (Shas) also called for Weinstein to investigate Zoabi.
Ede lstein rebuffed the requests while still expressing hope Zoabi will not be in the next Knesset.
“Her words are incitement that do not have a place in the Israeli political discourse, and I hope those who vote for Zoabi and her friends, representatives of the Arab population in Israel, will renounce her and criticize her provocative support for cruel terror,” the Knesset speaker said.
Sti ll, MKs sought other routes to remove Zoabi from office.
Knesset Interior Committee chairwoman Miri Regev (Likud Beytenu) said “Zoabi is a traitor and should be deported to Gaza.”
“She who identified with terrorists on the [2010 Gaza flotilla ship] Marmara, once again identifies with terror ists from Hamas who kidnapped our three boys,” Regev said. “I am not surprised to hear her statement. How cou ld a traitor like her blame [the kid nappers]? After all, she’s from their milieu.”
According to Regev, Zoabi belongs in Gaza because “once a traitor, always a traitor.”
She and MK Zvulun Kalfa (Bayit Yeh udi) proposed a bill to remove Zoa bi’s immunity in order to deter citizens and MKs from publicly supporting terror against Israelis.
Knesset Finance Committee chairman Nissan Slomiansky (Bayit Yehudi) said he plans to propose a bill that “would not allow public officials in gen eral, and specifically Zoabi, to sta y in their jobs after such outrageous words of incitement.”
Yisrael Beytenu MKs Shimon Ohayon and Orly Levy-Abecassis submitted an ethics complaint against Zoa bi, saying she is an embarrassmen t to Israel and encourages further kidnappings.
However, according to Knesset regula tions, the fact they sent a press release about their ethics complaint automatically disqualifies it.
Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon recounted how he successfully passed a motion to have Zoabi ban ned from running in the 2013 ele ction in the Central Election Committee, but the vote was overturned by the Supreme Court.
“The embarrassment of having [Zoabi] in the Knesset must end,” he said. “Zoabi should be a member of the Hamas parliament.”
Dep uty Transportation Minister Tzipi Hotovely called Zoabi a Hamas col laborator whose citizenship should be taken away.
“Un fortunately, her seditious actions against the State of Israel were sanctioned by the Supreme Court,” Hot ovely said. “The court needs to thi nk about its actions so there’s a change and it begins to act according to the law, which states that Zoabi’s term as an MK must end.”
MK Ronen Hoffman (Yesh Atid) said Zoabi’s words show democracy has its limits and weaknesses.
“Democracy cannot always defend itself. The meaning of democracy is openness and freedom of expression, but it also must set limits. As an MK who volunteers as a spokeswoman for terrorist organizations, she is cro ssing the lines of legitimacy,” Hoffman said.
A B ayit Yehudi spokesman said Zoa bi’s presence in the Knesset pro ves Israel is the most tolerant country in the world toward minorities and terror-supporters.
“Just as we don’t see al-Qaida representatives in the US Congress inciting to kill Americans, the time has com e for the Israeli authorities to take action toward Zoabi,” he said.
The comments came a day after the Bal ad MK criticized her 17-year-old rel ative, Mohammed Zoabi, who posted a video online calling to bring back Gil-Ad Shaer, Eyal Yifrach and Naftali Fraenkel, who were abducted whi le hitchhiking in Gush Etzion Thursday night, and calling the Palestinian Authority terrorists.
Zoa bi said in the radio interview tha t her relative is from a broken home and is “twisted,” and disconnected from his identity as an Arab.
She also pointed out that he goes to a Jewish high school.
Meanwhile, Zoabi the high school stu dent wrote a letter to supporters that he is disconnecting from social media and keeping a low profile, as he received death threats in response to the video.
Police arrested three of the teenage Zoa bi’s family members, men aged 40- 60, who threatened him for “harming the family’s honor.”
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar wrote on Facebook: “Good for you, Mohammed Zoabi!”