MK Zoabi suspended from Knesset debates
Balad MK removed from Knesset until end of annual session following her participation in last year's Gaza flotilla; to be banned from speaking at Knesset, attending debates. Ethics Committee: 'Participation in flotilla does not fall within an MK's legitimate freedom of action'
The Knesset's Ethics Committee decided Monday to suspend MK Hanin Zoabi (Balad) from all Knesset activities until the end of the current session which ends in two weeks, following her participation in last year's Gaza flotilla. This will not apply to votes in the plenum.
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The Ethics Committee had discussed three complaints against Zoabi filed by fellow MKs.
Zoabi wrote in response: "I reject the complaints against me. These are vexatious claims against legitimate political activity which is well within every citizen's rights, certainly a member of Knesset's. I exercised my right for political action and freedom of speech and did not break the law. I therefore call upon the committee to dismiss these complaints."
The committee said in its decision, "The very participation in the flotilla, which was intended to break the naval blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip as part of the armed conflict with Hamas constitutes an action which hurts state security and does not fall within a Knesset member's legitimate freedom of action."
The committee rejected claims of a legitimate form of protest: "The committee believes that an MK joining an action organized by a group which the defense minister declared unlawful and is meant to break a naval blockade imposed over security reasons exceeds a legitimate act of protest by an MK against government policy. " The committee noted that Zoabi had abused her duties as a member of Knesset obligated to maintain its honor.
Last July, the Knesset revoked Zoabi privileges following her participation in the flotilla.
"I understand and respect your need to support Knesset employees. I also support the employees' honor. I hereby state that I had no intention of hurting the ushers, much less assaulting them. I respect their work. The ushers themselves can arrest to the honorable manner in which I treat them."
Nevertheless, she noted that Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin's letter had damaged her reputation. "(The letter) was filled with false documentation and included hurtful conclusions violating the Libel Law."
Zoabi denied having attacked the ushers: "The video documentation clearly shows there is no basis for the groundless claims of 'assault' 'misbehavior' or the exercise of violence by me. Moreover, at the end of the debate one of the ushers involved came to apologize to me and I answered there was no need as she was trying to do her job."
The MK further stressed, "All I tried to do was free myself from the ushers' hands which held me disproportionally. After several such attempts, and as I was heading out, I pushed my hand trying to fend the ushers off, that is all. I never tried to assault her, much less hit her as your letter stated."
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