Last Updated: Sun Oct 17, 2010 00:16 am (KSA) 21:16 pm (GMT)

Knesset member stripped of rights over flotilla

Arab MK Haneen Zoabi participated in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla (File)
Arab MK Haneen Zoabi participated in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla (File)

The Israeli Knesset voted Tuesday for stripping Arab member Haneen Zoabi of several parliamentary rights for her participation in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.

Weeks after the measure was proposed, the Knesset voted 34 to 16 late Tuesday night to revoke some of the parliamentary privileges of Haneen Zoabi, who represents the National Democratic Alliance Party (Balad), on the grounds that her presence on board the Turkish vessel Mavi Marmara constitutes a threat to Israel's security.

A few days after the May 31 flotilla incident, the Knesset's House Committee voted seven to one to deny Zoabi the right to hold a diplomatic passport, the right to free legal counsel in case she faces trial, and all the privileges related to travelling overseas as a member of parliament.

The vote was supposed to be brought to the Knesset plenum right after the House Committee meeting, yet Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin, backed by senior government officials, preferred to wait in the hope that criminal charges could be pressed against Zoabi for taking part in the Gaza-bound aid convoy.

With no indication of imminent criminal charges and with the approach of the Knesset's summer recess, the debate had to be resolved and plenum approval of the initial vote was finally obtained.

Racism against Arabs

 I hear MK Zoabi defining herself as a Palestinian and I ask – if you are a Palestinian, why are you a member of the Israeli Knesset? 
Likud MK Gila Gamliel

Balad Party declared its support for Zoabi as well as its condemnation of discriminatory practices against Arab Israelis.

“The debate today helps us to explain to the entire world about the discriminatory and racist attitude toward the Arab public,” said Balad chairman Jamal Zahalka.

“It also helps us reveal that in the Knesset, there are two types of MKs, regular MKs and Arab MKs."

While Zahalka stressed that Zoabi's actions in support of Palestinians was in line with her party's platform, Likud MK Gila Gamliel argued that Zoabi should not be a member of Knesset if she defines herself as Palestinian.

“I hear MK Zoabi defining herself as a Palestinian and I ask – if you are a Palestinian, why are you a member of the Israeli Knesset?” she addressed Zoabi in Tuesday's session.

Gamliel accused Zoabi of not only failing to fulfill her obligations towards the citizens of her country, but also of attacking them.

 It’s not surprising that a country that strips the fundamental rights of its Arab citizens would revoke the privileges of a Knesset member who loyally represents her electorate 
MK Haneen Zoabi

Speaking to Israel's Channel 2, Zoabi said the Knesset "has no idea what democracy is" and that instead of taking such measures against her it should have protected her from the racism that targets her and her party's views.

When she took the podium, Zoabi said the decision to strip her of her parliamentary rights is not surprising since it is in accordance with Israel's racist attitudes against Arabs.

“It’s not surprising that a country that strips the fundamental rights of its Arab citizens would revoke the privileges of a Knesset member who loyally represents her electorate.”

Zoabi warned that the latest measures taken against her set a dangerous precedent as far as hostility towards Arab citizens of Israel is concerned.

“When you threaten the Arab MKs and the protectors of Arabs, you threaten democracy and co-existence between Jews and Arabs.”

Comments »

Post Your Comment »

Social Media »