"I'm an elected official of a sector that makes up 20% of Israel and I will continue to be one," MK Hanin Zoabi (Balad) told Ynet Tuesday, in the wake of the recent attempt to impeach her.
The controversial Knesset member, who is the focus of an Elections Committee disqualification hearing, seemed unfazed by the possibility that she may not be allowed to become part of the 19th Knesset following the coming January elections.
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"There have been five attempts to disqualify the Balad list in the past and the court clearly ruled against each of them," she said.
MK Ofir Akunis (Likud), who promoted the move, said that the impeachment stands to enjoy a majority vote: "In her years in parliament, MK Zoabi has never once ceased to undermine the State of Israel and incite (her public) against its government, institution and security forces," the petition said.
It further said that Zoabi had repeatedly negated the existence of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state – which according to the law allows the committee to disqualify her from running for public office.
Zoabi forcibly removed from the plenum hall (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
But even if the Elections Committee decides to oust Zoabi, her case is likely to be heard before the High Court of Justice before any final decision is made.
'Right is power-drunk'
Zoabi told Ynet that the disqualification motion was indicative of the frivolous nature of the Israeli political arena: "Unfortunately, Israeli politics have turned into a circus," she said.
"There's no serious discussion about who can run for office and what are the limits of freedom of speech, the limits for public officials and so on.
"Some people, like Akunis, are just trying to grab headlines. I'm just happy that none of these MKs tried to hit me and that this cheap populism boiled down to just verbal violence," she said.
The Election Committee will debate the motion to disqualify Zoabi on Wednesday, as well as a similar motion to disqualify her party.
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"Balad is a legitimate party that represents the Palestinian public in Israel on a long line of issues, such as national, civilian and gender equality," she said.
While calls to strip Zoabi of her parliamentary privileges have become more frequent since her participation in the 2010 Gaza flotilla, the MK refuses to take the issue personally.
According to the Balad MK, she is not the real target of the impeachment campaign: "The Right is power-drunk. They know nothing about democracy or the rule of the majority.
"Instead of dealing with the real issues they're uttering the kind of inciting rhetoric that gets them on TV and gives them headlines."
Zoabi said that the Arab public is very supportive of her, adding that "It goes beyond the narrow support that the Israeli media covers. If I, or Balad, are disqualified, it will create a new reality and change the rules of the game between the Palestinian citizens and the state."
Recent polls predict Balad is likely to win only three House seats, but Zoabi is convinced her party will beat the odds.
"I think we are gaining popularity. We were very prolific this Knesset term, starting with working against racist legislation, supporting small businesses and looking out for the Arab municipalities, as well as looking out for the Palestinian collective in Israel. I believe we'll get at least four mandates."
Hassan Shaalan is a Ynet and Yedioth Ahronoth correspondent
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