C'tee votes to annul Zoabi’s privileges

Arab Knesset members: This was a kangaroo court.

By REBECCA ANNA STOIL
June 8, 2010 04:42
3 minute read.
BALAD MK, Haneen Zoabi

BaladMKHaneenZoabi311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

 
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Right-wing MKs and activists popped the cork on a celebratory bottle of wine and shouted l’chaim Monday morning after the Knesset’s House Committee voted to strip MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad) of privileges accompanying her status as a member of Knesset.

The move was made in response to Zoabi’s participation last week in the Gaza flotilla aboard the Mavi Marmara, as well as her participation in an April visit by six Arab MKs to Libya.

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The House Committee voted seven to one to deny Zoabi her privilege to hold a diplomatic passport; her right to subsidized legal counsel in the event of criminal proceedings against her over the Libya visit or her participation in the flotilla, or for any related future offenses; and any extra privileges she could enjoy as a member of Knesset traveling overseas.

The hearing against Zoabi was the continuation of an earlier hearing proposed by MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) before the Gaza flotilla incident. During that hearing, MKs blasted the Libya visit, while Arab lawmakers boycotted the session. No Arab MKs appeared during the Monday hearing, either, but MK Dov Henin (Hadash) defended Zoabi’s right to retain her parliamentary privileges.

Following the vote, House Committee chairman Yariv Levin (Likud) said that he would discuss the committee’s decision with Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin in order to bring the committee’s decision before the Knesset plenum for a vote, as required by law.



It is highly unlikely that the decision will pass in the plenum.

“The committee’s decision expresses the feelings of the entire nation that harsh steps should be taken against MKs who harm IDF soldiers and question our ability to be here,” said Levin after the committee vote. “MK Zoabi now knows that she will be made to foot the bill for her behavior

The committee’s decision is a stop sign to the continuation of all of the activities that undermine the basis of our existence, and whoever does not follow that sign will find themselves out of the Knesset

The House Committee – under my leadership – proved its commitment to maintain the Knesset’s honor and to put an end to the embarrassing exploitation of Israeli democracy and of MKs’ rights by some Arab MKs.”

Balad condemns decision

Although they boycotted the committee meeting, Balad representatives were quick to condemn the committee’s decision, describing it as “a political debate, the goal of which was political persecution.” “The committee meeting became a meeting of hatred and revenge. It was a kangaroo court in which the MKs were the prosecutors, the judges and the executors of the judgment,” added Balad officials.

“The face of the Knesset today is the face of MK Ben-Ari, a follower of [late Kach party leader Meir] Kahane. The anti-democratic majority is following him. The hearing was held at his request, and he gave it its tone.”

Balad also accused MKs of fanning the flames of incitement against Zoabi, who has reportedly received hundreds of threatening e-mails in recent days.

Also on Monday, Interior Minister Eli Yishai (Shas) said that next Sunday, he planned to present a government-sponsored bill proposing that anyone who supported terror would be considered a traitor and could therefore have their citizenship revoked.

“People who join and support terror organizations and actively back efforts to destroy the State of Israel should not be given benefits, and of course should not be able to become Knesset members,” said Yishai.

“I believe most of the people support this and that the Supreme Court will accept it.”

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