Charges against MK Haneen Zoabi come as the Israeli Prime Minister contemplates how to unseat Palestinian MKs.
Member of Knesset (MK) of the Joint List party, Haneen Zoabi, reached a plea bargain of six months of probation and a fine of NIS 3,000 at the Nazareth Magistrate's Court on Sunday for "disgracing a public servant."
Initially, the Attorney General wanted to charge Zoabi with “incitement” for allegedly telling a crowd of protesters in 2014 that Israeli Palestinians who work for government security forces “should be scared of us.” However, the charges were dropped after they were proved to be false.
Instead, Zoabi was charged on Sunday with “disgracing a public servant,” based on the claim that Zoabi called an Israeli Arab police officer a “traitor” at a protest in Nazareth on July 6, 2014.
The charges against Zoabi come as the Israeli government builds up an offensive against Palestinian Israeli MKs.
Prime Minister Netanyahu is also attacking Palestinian-Israeli MKs Haneen Zoabi, Jamal Zahalka and Basel Ghatas – all members of the Joint List – for their recent visit with Palestinian families in Jerusalem that lost a relative to Israeli police violence and still await receiving their bodies from the governement.
The Joint MKs went to meet with these Palestinian Jerusalemites to hear their requests for equal opportunity to bury their children. While the Ministry of Internal Security refuses to return the bodies of Palestinian residents of Jerusalem that were killed by the Israeli police since October’s uprising, the bodies of Palestinians killed by the Israeli army in the West Bank have recently been returned to their families.
But, Netanyahu is focusing on the fact that some of the Palestinians killed by Israeli forces were suspected to have intentionally attacked Israelis to unsettle the Joint List MKs' positions in governement.
On Thursday, Netanyahu said that he, along with Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, would file a personal complaint against Zoabi, Zahalka and Ghatas with the Knesset Ethics Committee.
Then, on Saturday, Netanyahu instructed the Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit to examine what legal actions could be taken against Zoabi, Zahalka and Ghatas.
Finally, on Sunday, the Prime Minister’s Office released a statement saying that Netanyahu believes “most citizens of Israel feel that these [three] MKs do not represent them.”
Netnayahu added, “I would like to examine new and reinforced legislative changes to ensure that anyone who acts in this direction will not serve in the Israeli Knesset.”
And even the opposition to Netanyahu’s right-wing government, such as Yesh Atid and Meretz, have joined in on attacking the three Palestinian representatives.
Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid sent a letter to Attorney General Mandelblit demanding the initiation of proceedings to remove parliamentary immunity from the three Joint List MKs so that they could be charged with “incitement” and “support for terrorism.”
MK Ilan Gilon of Meretz also came out against the three MKs, saying in a post on Facebook that they have “lost their way.” Gilon, who claims to be committed to human rights, made no mention of Palestinian families’ right to bury their deceased relatives.
On Saturday, Balad claimed that the Prime Minister was inciting against Palestinian MKs and intentionally distracting from the real issue at hand, saying: “Netanyahu’s continued incitement against Arab MKs is another step in his rule, which is based on intimidation and racism in order to divert the discussion from the main topic: the return of the bodies to their families for burial, as required by any moral standard of a human or religious group," the party said.