The Israel Police have told Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein that there is sufficient evidence to begin investigating MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad) for incitement after she said the kidnapping of three teens in the West Bank earlier this month was not terrorism, the Israel Police confirmed on Monday.
“I didn’t break any law, rather, I am fulfilling my moral, human and political obligation to fight against oppression and for justice,” Zoabi said in response, adding that there is no law preventing her from honestly expressing her opinion, even if it is controversial.
“You may have forgotten that I am a Palestinian. Investigations and threats will not deter me. In my fight for a just peace I will not compromise with the occupation and its representatives,” she stated.
According to Zoabi, Prime Minister Binyamin “Netanyahu should be put on trial for the crime of occupation and breaking international law, not me.
My battle is to implement international law and end the occupation.
I am prepared for any just trial as long as the truly violent side is punished,” Zoabi said.
Police said Intelligence and Investigations branch Chief Commissioner Meni Yitzhaki examined the issue and passed his opinion on to Weinstein saying that he believes it would be fitting to investigate the manner.
They clarified however that the decision on whether or not to open an official investigation will be made by the Attorney- General and not by police.
The announcement follows one made by police last week in which police said they received several official criminal complaints against Zoabi, after she gave an interview with Radio Tel Aviv last Tuesday in which she said that the kidnappers are not terrorists, rather “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 Israeli citizens and society will wake up and feel the suffering of the other.”
Zoabi also said that she does not agree with the kidnapping, but reiterated that it is a result of the “occupation.” She repeated her statements and said she is not apologetic the following day.
Deputy Interior Minister Faina Kirschenbaum asked Attorney- General Weinstein on Monday to speed up the process and indict Zoabi as soon as possible.
President-elect Reuven Rivlin, who defended Zoabi’s freedom of speech when he was Knesset speaker, said “there are some MKs who try to outwit Israeli democracy.
“Sometimes people clearly cross a redline, but I would be very careful with that line, because I didn’t want those people who oppose Israel’s existence to force me [as Knesset speaker] to harm Israeli democracy,” he told Army Radio. “The High Court will decide if [Zoabi] crossed the line. It’s not my job.”
In the hours following Zoabi’s interview, dozens of coalition and opposition MKs came out against Zoabi’s statements, with several demanding she be investigated for incitement and vowing to propose bills to remove her from the Knesset.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said “not only are the kidnappers terrorists, Hanin Zoabi is a terrorist too.”
Soon after, Knesset Committee for the Advancement of the Status of Women 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 committee chairwoman.
Are you policewoman? You are a racist,” Zoabi shouted in response.
On Wednesday, opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Labor) called for Zoabi to apologize, in a letter to the Balad MK.
“As someone who knows Israeli Arabs well, I know that it disapproves of terror and violence and your words cause them a great injustice,” Herzog wrote. “It would be better if you avoid saying such things in the future as they cause damage to the delicate fabric of Israeli life.”