MK Haneen Zoabi .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein on Tuesday informed MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad) that she must attend her next scheduled police questioning in the incitement case against her.
Soon after Weinstein’s statements, Zoabi said she would allow herself to be questioned by police.
Weinstein said there is no legal immunity for a member of Knesset from being questioned by police, though there is from arrest and wire-tapping.
The attorney-general added that immunity would only be an issue if the prosecution wishes to indict Zoabi.
The Balad MK skipped her police questioning on Sunday in the investigation against her for incitement and disgracing a public servant, relating to a hearing at a Nazareth court.
Zoabi’s lawyers also criticized Weinstein for refusing to give her an initial look at some of the evidence against her prior to her questioning. The attorney- general said allowing such a move would undermine the investigation.
Weinstein also responded to Zoabi’s request to investigate Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman for incitement, saying that the two issues are not connected and he believes police would respond to her once they complete a review of the matter.
A spokeswoman for Zoabi said her lawyers still disagree with Weinstein on his definition of parliamentary immunity, but because he gave a detailed response to their questions, the Balad MK has agreed to appear for questioning and relay her version of events. In addition, Zoabi’s attorneys pointed out that she never said she refused to be questioned.
Miri Regev, chairwoman of the Knesset Interior Committee, said, “Zoabi said she would appear for questioning not because she wants to, but because if she didn’t, she’d be taken in handcuffs.” The Likud MK continued: “I am glad the attorney-general and the state attorney made it clear that in the State of Israel no one is above the law.”
Deputy Interior Minister Faina Kirschenbaum (Yisrael Beytenu), who filed complaints against Zoabi to the Attorney-General’s Office and the Knesset Ethics Committee, commended Weinstein for telling Zoabi she must attend her police questioning.
Kirschenbaum called Zoabi “a Hamas agent who uses her immunity to dig a tunnel under Israeli sovereignty.”
“For too many years Zoabi took advantage of her parliamentary immunity to incite against and harm Israeli sovereignty,” Kirschenbaum said.
“There is no place in Israel for a MK who calls to harm the state she represents.”
In July, Weinstein closed a different investigation against Zoabi for incitement for giving several media interviews seemingly supporting the kidnapping of the three Jewish teenagers in mid-June. Weinstein said despite the problematic nature of her statements ethically, she herself had qualified her statements.
The attorney-general said those qualifications – along with her parliamentary immunity and the general commitment to free speech – made the case too weak to file an indictment.
Last month, the Knesset Ethics Committee banned Zoabi from all parliamentary activity except for voting for six months, meaning she cannot give speeches, participate in committee meetings or propose bills. The punishment was for both of the aforementioned incidents, as well as Zoabi expressing support for “resistance” against Israel and opposition to negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, in an article she wrote for a Hamas-affiliated website and when speaking to the terrorist organization’s television station.