Knesset gives Zoabi bodyguard after threats to her life

Police to investigate whether Balad MK incited; Zoabi remains unapologetic, repeats that kidnapping is not terror.

June 18, 2014 14:14
2 minute read.
Haneen Zoabi



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MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad) will have a bodyguard after receiving threats to her life, the Knesset announced Wednesday.

Knesset security chief Yosef Griff made the decision after Zoabi received death threats over the phone following statements she made on Tuesday and Wednesday that the kidnapping of three teens in Gush Etzion last weekend was not terrorism.

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Zoabi told Army Radio she has gone into hiding and thrown away her cellphone, which she said was hacked. In addition, her phone number was disseminated on social media. The comments sparked an uproar, leading many MKs to call for the removal of her parliamentary immunity so she can be tried for incitement.

Some lawmakers plan to propose bills that would oust her from the Knesset for supporting terrorism.

Several complaints were submitted to the police accusing her of incitement, including by members of the Bayit Yehudi central committee.

A police spokesman said Wednesday that the complaints will be examined by the State Attorney’s Office to determine whether her words were illegal incitement. Meanwhile, on Wednesday morning, Zoabi defended and repeated her assertion that the abduction of three Israeli teens was not an act of terrorism, rather a response to the “occupation.”

“I can’t call this act terrorism, even if I don’t agree with it – and I don’t,” Zoabi told Army Radio. “This incident is a result of [Israeli] war crimes. There is a consensus in our [Palestinian] nation that a battle against the occupation is legitimate. As long as Israel has a policy of terrorism, it is difficult for me to say [the kidnapping was terrorism].”

She conceded that if the kidnappers kill the boys, it would not be a legitimate action, but said it would be Israel’s fault.

“[Israel] encourages kidnapping as long as it ignores the context of occupation,” she said.

Zoabi added that if it were up to her, she would free both the captives and Palestinian prisoners.

When asked whether she is in contact with Hamas, she said “no, but [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu is.”

Earlier Wednesday, opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Labor) called for Zoabi to apologize, in a letter to the Balad MK.

“Yesterday, at the height of the operation to bring back the boys, you decided to say obscene words encouraging kidnapping,” Herzog wrote. “These statements harm peace and coexistence no less than any ‘price tag’ act.”

The Labor leader added that what Zoabi said harmed the Israeli Arab public. “As someone who knows Israeli Arabs well, I know that it disapproves of terrorism and violence and your words cause them a great injustice,” Herzog wrote. “It would be better if you avoid saying such things in the future, as they cause damage to the delicate fabric of Israeli life.”

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