The Knesset Ethics Committee punished MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad) on Monday for
participating in last year’s Gaza flotilla, forbidding her to take part in all
Knesset discussions until the end of the summer session – a decision Zoabi
called “the decision of an automatic right-wing, racist majority.”
MKs, Michael Ben-Ari (National Union), Danny Danon (Likud) and Orit Zuaretz (Kadima) filed complaints to the Ethics Committee about Zoabi’s
participation in the May 2010 blockade-breaking flotilla, aboard the Mavi
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“By participating in the flotilla, MK Zoabi severely damaged the
Knesset and its members’ honor,” Danon wrote. “Zoabi not only behaved
inappropriately for an MK, but in a way inappropriate for any Israeli
Ben-Ari said Zoabi “took advantage of her parliamentary
immunity” in order to “incite against IDF soldiers and the State of Israel”
during a press conference following her participation in the
Zuaretz also asked the committee to respond to Zoabi’s words in
the press conference, where she said that “Israel kidnapped and murdered in cold
Zoabi told the committee that she rejected the complaints as
“spiteful,” adding that she had participated in “legitimate political
activities, which are the right of every citizen, and certainly of a Knesset
“I upheld my right to political activity and freedom of
expression, and did not break the law,” she declared.
Committee’s decision on the matter was delayed due to a police investigation
into all Israeli citizens aboard the flotilla. On June 22, Attorney-General
Yehuda Weinstein told the committee that his office had yet to make a decision,
and the committee decided to discuss the matter.
The committee wrote that
it viewed Zoabi’s participation in the flotilla as a “very severe”
“Participating in the flotilla – intended to break Israel’s
naval blockade on Gaza, which is part of the armed conflict between Israel and
Hamas – is an action that harms the state’s security and is illegitimate for a
Knesset member,” the committee wrote.
The committee also pointed out that
this was the second time Zoabi had traveled abroad with funding from an outside
source, without permission.
It was therefore punishing Zoabi for two
ethics violations by forbidding her to participate in any plenum or committee
discussions until the end of the summer session, which closes on August 7. She
may enter meetings only to vote, and may attend meetings pertaining to her
personally, such as Tuesday’s planned House Committee meeting to discuss her
attack on a Knesset usher last week.
The committee also wrote that while
an MK’s words in a political demonstration did not constitute a violation of
ethics, Zoabi’s “actively taking part in harming the state’s security justifies
a change in the committee’s policy, and an appropriate punishment.”
was not an Ethics Committee decision, it was the decision of an automatic
racist, right-wing majority in this committee,” Zoabi said. “Therefore, it was a
completely political decision.
“Who decides what is politically
legitimate? The right-wing majority that makes up the government? A political
majority? Then what is the meaning of my immunity, which is meant to protect me
from the tyranny of the majority?” Zoabi asked.
“I upheld my human, moral
and political obligation by participating in the struggle to break the
illegitimate and inhumane blockade on Gaza,” she added.
member MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) defended the committee’s decision, saying that
“Haneen Zoabi is just the tip of the iceberg of the phenomenon in which Arab MKs
exploit Israeli democracy. The Ethics Committee sent a clear message to MKs who
work against the State of Israel and join forces with organizations that call
for its destruction,” she added.
“You are shaming the Knesset,” she said,
addressing Zoabi. “This is not the place for you.”