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Arab MK Petitions Against Loss of Diplomatic Privileges

Arab MKs' apparent enemy-sympathies again in focus: Arab MK Zouabi petitions High Court against Knesset decision to deny her diplomatic privileges.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 3/28/2011, 4:57 PM / Last Update: 3/28/2011, 5:03 PM

Flash 90

The issue of Arab MKs and their apparent sympathies for the enemy came to the fore again today: Arab MK Zouabi petitioned the Supreme Court against a Knesset decision to deprive her of Knesset privileges.

Her arrival at the court building aroused a storm of protest, with activists Itamar Ben-Gvir and Baruch Marzel yelling repeatedly at her, “You are a terrorist! Go to Qaddaffi!”

Ben-Gvir and Marzel serve as parliamentary aides to MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union), the MK who initiated the process of removing some of her parliamentary privileges. Zouabi was present on the Mavi Marmara ship last year when it attempted to break the blockade on Hamas-controlled Gaza. Even more gravely, she apparently knew of the plans of many passengers to attack Israeli soldiers who were expected to board the ship.

Though she said repeatedly after the incident that she had no knowledge of any preparations for a violent attack on IDF soldiers, a video clip of her on board the ship indicates that she mis-spoke. The clip shows Zouabi standing and talking in a stairwell below deck with mob members. One Israel Navy soldier testified that it was at this point that three of his comrades were being dragged below in an attempt to kidnap them; according to his testimony, it is unlikely that Zouabi did not see this.

A senior Navy source similarly commented after seeing the film, “It is hard to conceive that Zouabi, standing there in the ship’s stairwell, did not see the attempts to abduct IDF soldiers and hide them below-board.”    

At Ben-Ari’s behest, the Knesset ultimately voted to strip her of the rights to a diplomatic passport and public funding of her legal expenses.

It was this decision that she appealed today in the Supreme Court. No decision was reached. One of her lawyers said before the session, “This appeal is not because of love for MK Zouabi, but rather for love of our homeland… Her behavior and opinions are maddening to some, but specifically because of that they are fighting for her right express herself without having to worry about the Knesset acting against her.”

Another lawyer said it was, in fact, about Zouabi herself: “She is an MK, a member of a minority party fighting for its rights, and she is being treated shamefully. Her participation on the Marmara was like taking part in a protest – a protest against the closure of Gaza.” He did not relate to her apparent knowledge of the violence being planned and perpetrated against the Israelis.

The Knesset’s legal counsel, Eyal Golan, said during the hearing that the Attorney General had informed him that a criminal investigation had been initiated against Zouabi and other Israelis for their participation in the anti-Israel flotilla.