Daily Israel Report

MK Zoabi Says Defending Kidnappers is Her 'Moral Duty'

Zoabi's defenses grow wilder, claims PM should 'be put on trial for war crimes' as noose around her tightens.
By Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 6/23/2014, 12:51 PM

MK Hanin Zoabi
MK Hanin Zoabi
Flash 90

MK Hanin Zoabi (Balad - United Arab List)'s defense of her controversial remarks supporting Hamas terrorists became wilder and wilder Monday, during which she claimed that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu should be "put on trial" instead of the terrorist kidnappers. 

"I did not break any laws," Zoabi insisted Monday. "On the contrary - I am fulfilling my moral, human and political duty, the obligation for which I was sent to the Knesset: to fight oppression, and for justice."

Zoabi claimed her comments supporting Hamas are an "opinion" and not an incitement for violence. 

"Israel has no law that prevents an opinion - honest, sharp and emotional as it may be," she said. "I do what a real Opposition is supposed to do."

The MK even went so far as to claim that her words - which stated that Hamas was justified to kidnap (and, by implication, kill) Israeli high school students due to the "frustration" of Palestinian Arabs with their own lives - represent the "majority opinion" among Israeli Arabs.  

"I represent 100,000 people who voted for me, and the positions of the majority of Arab citizens, as well as those Israeli Jews who believe in universal human values," she claimed. "I am Palestinian, fulfilling my public mission as such and expressing my views without fear. Investigations and threats of punishment don't scare me."

Zoabi then accused Netanyahu of "war crimes" for looking for the kidnapped teens, saying he should be "put on trial."

Her words echo the sentiments behind an official statement from the PLO, which stated that Netanyahu's and the IDF's search for the teens are a "pretense" for punishing Palestinian Arabs. 

Shock value

Last Tuesday, Zoabi stated to a shocked interviewer on Radio Tel Aviv that the Hamas terrorists responsible for kidnapping three yeshiva students "are not terrorists" and that the kidnapping is a "last resort" for Palestinian Arabs frustrated by their lives. 

"They are not terrorists, I do not agree with you!" Zoabi fired. "They have seen no other way to change their reality and they have to resort to these measures until Israel sobers up a bit and feels the suffering of others."

Zoabi hung up on interviewer Sharon Gal after the statement, leaving Gal and the audience in shock. The comments have caused a media firestorm as concern escalates over the safety of the three teenagers, who were kidnapped by Hamas terrorists Thursday night while attempted to travel home from school. 

While fellow Balad MKs have rallied behind Zoabi, the MK has also seen a rare condemnation from the political left. 

A series of legal actions have been initiated against Zoabi for the remarks, with several ministers and MKs arguing that the remarks are a breach of laws banning Knesset members from identifying with terrorists or inciting against Israel.

Zoabi's comments surface less than 24 hours after the Israel Police made a public recommendation that an investigation be launched into her conduct for incitement. 

Political 'rap sheet'

Hanin Zoabi has been linked to Hamas, and is infamous for provocative speeches, including one in which she said that Israel has “no right to a normal life” and a later address claiming that “the Israeli occupation” was behind the murder of Israelis in Bulgaria. Recently, she declared that Israel should "thank her" for allowing Jews to live in the Jewish State. 

Before the last elections, the Central Elections Committee banned Zoabi, under a clause requiring candidates and parties not to work against Israel's character as a Jewish, democratic state. 

However, the Supreme Court later overturned the decision and allowed Zoabi to run - a decision Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon lamented Tuesday. 

"I was able to reject [Zoabi's] candidacy for the Knesset in the [Central] Elections Committee, but the Supreme Court overturned the decision," Danon said. ''This is a fiasco which the Knesset has to stop."