Knesset legal counsel approves revoking MK Zoabi’s rights

Legal adviser says Knesset did not overstep its bounds, was a rare but proportional step to take under the circumstances.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN, REBECCA ANNA STOIL
June 22, 2011 21:07
1 minute read.
BALAD MK, Haneen Zoabi

BaladMKHaneenZoabi311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

 
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The Knesset did not overstep its bounds when it decided to strip MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad) of some of her parliamentary privileges last July, following her participation in the Gaza flotilla aboard the Mavi Marmara, Knesset legal adviser Eyal Yinon wrote the High Court on Wednesday.

Zoabi’s right to hold a diplomatic passport was rescinded by the vote as were extra privileges she could enjoy as a Knesset member traveling overseas.

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She lost her right to subsidized legal counsel in the event of criminal proceedings against her over her participation in the flotilla, or for any related future offenses.

A series of lawmakers, both Arab and Jewish, said that such a move endangered Israeli democracy, while Zoabi’s opponents argued that it was the freshman MK who constituted a threat to Israel.

Zoabi, MK Eitan Cabel (Labor), Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel petitioned against the Knesset’s decision to the High Court of Justice, which issued a restraining order preventing the Knesset’s decision from being implemented until it was properly explained by Yinon.

Yinon wrote the court that the Knesset’s decision was a rare step to take against an MK, but it was proportional since she intended to use her diplomatic passport to take further action against the state.

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“The right to remove an MK’s privilege is guaranteed according to immunity laws,” Yinon wrote.

“This step was taken because it was proven that MK Zoabi intends to continue with activity that most of the MKs consider illegitimate for an MK. The decision was in line with guidelines established by the courts in a way that is balanced and proportional and allows MK Zoabi to maintain the leeway to carry out her legitimate political work.”

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