MK Haneen Zoabi..
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Attorney-general Yehuda Weinstein ordered police to launch a criminal investigation against Balad MK Haneen Zoabi on Friday for alleged incitement and disgracing a public servant, relating to a court hearing at a Nazareth Court.
The Justice Ministry has not made an official announcement, but a senior government source indicated that the investigation was in the works and that any delay in a public statement related to technicalities of the incitement law requiring a waiting period.
The source said that Zoabi had called Israeli-Arab police officers “traitors” and told a protesting crowd to spit in their faces.
“If the attorney-general is going to open an investigation, he should agree also to open one against all of the police officers who broke the law with brutal behavior towards me and the rest of the protesters,” Zoabi said in response to the launching of the investigation against her.
Zoabi said that she is preparing a complaint “against the officers who pushed and swore at me, hit me and pulled my hair, and handcuffed me for no reason.”
“I, however, will continue even more the just struggle against war crimes committed by the army in Gaza and continue my activity to lift the siege and end the occupation,” she added.
Investigators will seek to determine whether Zoabi’s behavior met the threshold for incitement and insulting a public official.
The Justice Ministry source indicated that this incident was being looked into separately from two other recent incidents relating to the MK’s conduct in television interviews and at a Haifa protest.
Unlike the previous episodes, where announcements came via the police, this time there was official government confirmation, signaling the incident may be treated more seriously.
Earlier this month, Asst.-Ch. Mani Yitzhaki, head of the police investigations and intelligence branch, recommended that charges be brought against Zoabi.
A police officer in Nazareth complained that after he testified in court in the city, angry protesters met him outside the courthouse.
One of the protesters was Zoabi, who “shouted offensive terms and called out to those present in a way that could be suspected as insulting a public worker and incitement to violence,” according to police.
Zoabi’s office did not respond to inquiries as to what the MK said to the police officer.
Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) commended Weinstein on Friday, saying that “finally law enforcement is doing its job and is starting to deal with the Arab MKs who aid the enemy.”
According to Elkin, “Zoabi is only an MK because the legal system defended her against a just decision by the Central Election Committee to disqualify her candidacy as a member of Israel’s Knesset.”
Elkin called on police to investigate her as soon as possible and for her to be put on trial.
“The time has come to take care of the traitors among Arab MKs. In no other democratic country would such behavior be tolerated,” he said.
Similarly, Deputy Interior Minister Faina Kirschenbaum (Yisrael Beytenu) said Weinstein was doing the right thing and that police should have no problem finding proof that Zoabi incited against the state and supports Hamas.
Kirschenbaum added that several factions in the Knesset support the removal of Zoabi’s parliamentary immunity.
MK Danny Danon (Likud) said “it’s about time this terrorist goes to jail. I hope the investigation will end soon and lead to her being convicted for incitement against the state.”
Knesset Interior Committee chairwoman Miri Regev (Likud) said that she will hold a meeting on enforcing laws prohibiting incitement on Monday.
“The time has come for MK Zoabi’s immunity to be removed and for her to be punished for her incitement against the State of Israel and it’s security forces,” Regev said.
Meanwhile, MK David Rotem (Yisrael Beytenu) submitted a bill on Thursday intended to remove the rogue MK from the Knesset.
The bill would rescind Israeli citizenship of MKs who support terrorist organizations and enemy states in a time of war.
The purpose of the bill is to prevent the “absurd situation in which MKs express support for terrorist organizations and activities against the State of Israel and its citizens in Israel and abroad during wartime.”
The bill states that: “These acts are a clear breach of trust against the State of Israel and therefore, must be prevented by taking citizenship away from MKs who act against the country they are supposed to represent.”
“MKs who are against the State of Israel should not have their job anymore,” Rotem said on Friday.Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.