The Knesset Ethics Committee suspended Joint List MK Haneen Zoabi from the legislature for a week, in response to her calling IDF soldiers “murderers.”
Likud MK Oren Hazan, who is serving a six-month suspension from the Knesset for harassing his fellow lawmakers along with several other citizens, complained about the comments made by Zoabi in the Knesset Education, Culture and Sport Committee in February.
When an MK is suspended from the Knesset, he or she may vote in the plenum but cannot participate in any other legislative activity.
Zoabi said in the committee: “A person is called a murderer even if they murdered only once, or if they murder someone each day.
That applies to an army that murders sometimes, not every day.... Haven’t you heard about the Palestinian youths who were murdered?... The people here are afraid of the truth.”
The Joint List MK defended her statement by saying she spoke the truth, and that she has freedom of speech even if her opinions are not comfortable for everyone.
“I’d be happy to send you detailed information about the great number of Palestinians murdered by soldiers,” Zoabi added.
In a decision publicized by the committee on Wednesday, the Ethics Committee decided that the use of the term “murderers” about IDF soldiers – who are acting on behalf of the state – is not appropriate and does not fall under MKs’ broad freedom of political expression.
The panel said Zoabi was violating the Knesset ethics rule that MKs “should behave appropriately to their status... and try to increase public trust in the Knesset.”
Since Zoabi is a repeat offender, the committee decided to ban her, beginning when the Knesset returns from its Passover recess in May.
“The committee has redefined its job, from Ethics Committee to Censorship Committee,” Zoabi said. “I didn’t know I need approval from MKs for what terminology to use, what to say and not say, what values can and cannot be defended, whether the right to life is sacred or can be canceled.”
Zoabi continued in her statement to accuse the IDF of “bombing whole neighborhoods” and “shooting protesters in the back” and “shooting youths at close range.”
“Is it my job to make Israeli war crimes look better, or is it my job to shout out against these crimes and say the truth: Murder is murder,” she stated.
Zoabi has been suspended from the Knesset in the past. In 2014 she was suspended for six months, after she made statements justifying the kidnapping of three Israeli teens who were found to be murdered by Palestinians, and supported Hamas rocket attacks on Israel during Operation Protective Edge. During the operation, she traveled to Qatar, which was funding Hamas, and met with former MK Azmi Bishara, who fled Israel while he was investigated for spying for Hezbollah during the Second Lebanon War.
In 2011 she was suspended for two months, after she physically attacked an usher. The previous year, she participated in the infamous 2010 Gaza flotilla, which was stopped by IDF commandos.