Ten more lawmakers signed a petition this past week to begin impeachment proceedings against Joint List MK Haneen Zoabi, bringing the total number of signatures to 40 since the High Court of Justice declared the Impeachment Law constitutional.
To begin the impeachment process, 70 signatures are necessary on a petition to the Knesset House Committee, 10 of which must come from the opposition. If the panel, following a discussion, approves removing an MK from the Knesset, the decision can only be made final by a vote of 90 MKs – three-fourths of the Knesset – in the plenum.
Yisrael Beytenu MK Oded Forer spearheaded the effort in April, but was thwarted by coalition infighting on matters of religion and state, which have not been resolved.
Still, Forer said Sunday that he was pleased the High Court decision was giving his initiative a tailwind.
The ruling “paves the way to reach the necessary amount of signatures to lead to MK Zoabi’s removal from the Knesset, after the things she said and actions she took. The impeachment law was legislated for these exact situations, and I believe we will successfully implement it.”
The petition against Zoabi came after the Joint List MK supported the Hamas-backed demonstrations on the Gaza border in a speech to the UN Correspondents Association.
“We need to go on popular marches to remind the world of the siege [of Gaza],” Zoabi said. “We need millions of Palestinians to march on Jerusalem. That is the aspiration. But we can’t do it, because the Israelis would kill them.”
Zoabi also called Israel a “fascist country... only looking for an excuse to kill the Palestinians.” She was suspended from the Knesset for a week in March for calling IDF soldiers murderers.
The Impeachment Law, which passed in July 2016 and has yet to be implemented, allows MKs to remove their colleagues. Previously, lawmakers were expelled only if they were convicted of a crime with moral turpitude.
The reasons listed in the law for impeaching an MK are incitement to violence or racism and support of armed conflict against Israel, which are among the reasons cited in the Basic Law: Knesset for banning a party or person from running.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suggested such a law be passed after Zoabi and her fellow Balad Party MK within the Joint List, Jamal Zahalka, and former MK Basel Ghattas, met with families of terrorists and stood in a moment of silence in memory of “Palestinian martyrs.”
Joint List leader Ayman Odeh spoke out against the effort.
“We stand with MK Haneen Zoabi against every antidemocratic attack that she faces,” Odeh said. “In every civilized country, people like MK Zoabi are legitimate, and those who cannot serve as members of parliament in such a country are MKs who support expelling an MK who was elected by the public, the MKs who support continuing the occupation while stealing the liberty of an entire civilian population and trampling its national rights and political aspirations.”
“The Joint List has many partners around the world who support values of justice, human rights and many other universal values,” Odeh added.