MK Haneen Zoabi..
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad) defended and repeated her assertion that the abduction of three Israeli teens was not an act of terror Wednesday.
"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."
The comments came a day after the Balad MK caused an uproar after saying in a Radio Tel Aviv interview Tuesday that the kidnappers are not terrorists, 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 terror.
On Wednesday, Zoabi defended her statements by saying the kidnapping took place in a context of occupation.
"There is consensus in our [Palestinian] nation that a battle against the occupation is legitimate," she said. "As long as Israel has a policy of terror, it is difficult for me to say [the kidnapping was terror]."
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."
Zoabi also said she went into hiding and threw away her phone, which she said was hacked.
Her phone number was disseminated on social media, along with calls to tell her she was wrong for saying kidnapping is not terror.
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 Israel-Arab public.
"As someone who knows Israeli Arabs well, I know that they disapprove of terror 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."
Still, Herzog wrote, he sees a great value to freedom of expression in public and in the Knesset.