Arab-Israeli MK traveled to Jordan on Hamas TV’s dime

MK Hanin Zoabi's office was unavailable for comment on the matter.

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December 13, 2016 14:21
3 minute read.

Netanyahu blasts Zoabi over incitement

Netanyahu blasts Zoabi over incitement

MK Haneen Zoabi (Joint List) took a trip to Jordan this year that was funded by a Gaza-based Hamas television station, The Jerusalem Post learned Tuesday.

According to a Knesset Ethics Committee report of lawmakers’ travels and who sponsored trips, Zoabi went to Jordan on June 16 on a trip paid for by Al-Quds TV, a Hamas-affiliated channel.

The Ethics Committee, to whom MKs must report any travel that is not paid for by the Knesset, authorized Zoabi’s trip.

Al-Quds TV is an Arabic-language satellite television channel which is operated by Hamas and serves as a mouthpiece for the terrorist organization.

According to the Anti-Defamation League, Hamas uses Al-Quds TV “to spread its messages promoting terrorism and hatred of Jews and Israelis to a wider audience.”

Zoabi’s office said of the trip that she traveled to Jordan to be interviewed by Al-Quds TV, and that the matter is “unimportant and marginal.”

“At the same time, it must be understood that Hamas is a legitimate political organization that won its status in the Palestinian nation that elected it, and the organization doesn’t need authorizations from anyone,” Zoabi’s office added. “It is more important to focus on topics like the occupation and cruel oppression of the Palestinian people, as well as the war crimes committed against it.”

Coalition chairman David Bitan (Likud) said that “if anyone still had a doubt that Joint List MKs don’t represent Israeli Arabs, today we see that Zoabi traveled abroad with funding from the terrorist organization Hamas’s television channel. Zoabi does not belong in the Knesset.”

MK Robert Ilatov (Yisrael Beytenu) said that Hamas praises terrorist attacks against Israel on Al-Quds TV, which is “so extreme in its anti-Israel messages and so enthusiastic about harming IDF soldiers and innocent civilians that only MK Zoabi was considered suitable for the trip.”

According to Ilatov, Zoabi represents Hamas’ ideology of “incitement to terror and harming innocent people, which is meant to destroy the State of Israel.”

Ilatov also called Zoabi a “criminal traitor” and said she does not represent the “sane general Arab population, most of which is interested in living in coexistence and security.”

The Knesset spokesman said the Ethics Committee does not have the authority to review the content of MKs’ travels; rather, it reviews whether the trip is funded by a “public organization” and whether the length of the trip and its declared purpose match. The Ethics Committee allows MKs to go abroad to be interviewed by foreign media, and for the media outlet to pay for the trip.

“MKs are allowed to be interviewed for various media outlets in Israel and the world, and the Ethics Committee cannot censor them, even if they are criticizing government policies,” the statement reads.

Zoabi’s travels on Hamas TV’s dime were first uncovered by Galey Israel Radio, the day after a Knesset House Committee meeting discussing the way the Ethics Committee deals with lawmakers’ travels.

The meeting was called following a report on Channel 2 in which a reporter made up a fake organization meant to help marsupials, and invited MKs to its conference in Australia. Nine MKs agreed to attend.

Ethics Committee chairman Yitzhak Vaknin (Shas) explained that the panel does not give “permission slips” to MKs. The only thing it asks is for a report of how long a legislator will be abroad, the itinerary and who is paying for the trip.

When the committee is not familiar with an organization, it tries to look into it, but they do not have investigative tools and do not deal with the content of the trips, Knesset legal adviser Eyal Yinon said, advising MKs to look into who is inviting them.

House Committee chairman Yoav Kisch (Likud) advised that the Ethics Committee also ask MKs if they’re familiar with the organization that invited them abroad. If the lawmakers say no, the committee should investigate further.

Asher Weber contributed to this report.


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