MK Zoabi indicted on charges of 'disgracing a public servant'

Indictment, connected to incident in which she spoke out against Israeli Arab police, filed as part of plea deal in which the lawmaker had more serious incitement charge against her dropped.

MK Haneen Zoabi at the High Court of Justice (photo credit: NOAM MOSKOVICH)
MK Haneen Zoabi at the High Court of Justice
(photo credit: NOAM MOSKOVICH)
The Northern District Attorney’s Office on Thursday filed an indictment and plea bargain agreement with the Nazareth Magistrate’s Court regarding a 2014 incident involving MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad.) The plea deal, presuming the court endorses it, would drop the most serious charge of incitement against her for telling a crowd of protesters that Israeli Arabs who work for government security forces “should be scared of us,” but would convict her of the offense of disgracing a public servant.
Despite the deal, Zoabi and the state prosecution disagreed on the punishment, with the state seeking a suspended jail sentence, and Zoabi agreeing only to an NIS 3,000 fine and making an apology.
Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein personally approved the deal.
The proposed charges for incitement and disgracing a public servant relate to comments she made at a protest during a July 2014 hearing at a Nazareth court.
A Justice Ministry statement said Zoabi had called Israeli-Arab police officers “traitors,” implied threats against them and told a protesting crowd to spit in their faces.
In January, Balad said the party’s lawyer Hassan Jabarin had told Weinstein he saw no legal basis for putting her on trial.
“The State Attorney’s Office does not usually put elected officials on trial for a spontaneous expression made in the heat of the moment in public political activity,” Jabarin said. “Therefore, if charges are pressed, the state will have to explain to the court why Zoabi is discriminated against, since in dozens of similar cases, including worse instances, not only was there no indictment, there was no investigation.”
In July 2014, Weinstein closed a different investigation against Zoabi without charging her for several media interviews in which she was accused of implying support for the kidnappings of three Jewish teenagers a month beforehand, an allegation which she denied.