'Without Zoabi, without Zahalka, and hopefully without Balad'

Knesset Speaker welcomes report that two Arab MKs will not serve in the next Knesset. Zoabi denies she isn't running.

Elad Benari,

Yuli Edelstein
Yuli Edelstein
Hillel Maeir/TPS

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein on Wednesday welcomed Arutz Sheva’s report that MK Jamal Zahalka (Joint List) will not serve in the next Knesset.

Subsequent reports indicated that MK Hanin Zoabi will also not run in the upcoming elections.

Both Zahalka and Zoabi are members of the Balad party, one of three parties that make up the Joint List.

"Without Zoabi and without Zahalka, and with God's help, without all of Balad. This party contributes nothing to the Knesset, on the contrary, it harms the entire Israeli public," Edelstein tweeted.

National Union chairman Uri Ariel also commented on the matter and tweeted, "It's a pity this was not done sooner. Zoabi decided not to run for the Knesset, it’s about time. Take your friends and go straight to Ramallah."

Yisrael Beytenu chairman MK Avigdor Liberman similarly welcomed reports that Zoabi and Zahalka will not be part of the next Knesset.

"I welcome the expected resignation of Zoabi and Zahalka from the Knesset. Finally, some of the fifth column from this Knesset faction is going home. Hoping that this 'lovely pair' will not only resign from the Knesset but also from the State of Israel and move to the appropriate place - in Gaza or Damascus,” tweeted Liberman.

MK Neven Abu Rahmoun (Joint List) responded to Edelstein’s tweet and said, “Only today I stood and spoke about how difficult it is to be an Arab MK and deal with all the incitement and delegitimization by other Knesset members, and here is the Speaker of the Knesset, moments after the vote on dissolving the Knesset, repeating the same pattern of action. We are here and we will be here long after Edelstein.”

It is believed that the decision of Zahalka, the chairman of the Balad party, to step down from politics, is due to the party's regulations which state that a Knesset member can serve only four terms. Zahalka believes that he will find it difficult to bypass the regulations and therefore preferred to announce his resignation on his own initiative.

Zoabi, meanwhile, vehemently denied on Wednesday night that she has decided not to run for the next Knesset.

"There was no discussion in the Balad party about my running for the next Knesset. The issue is not on my agenda and it is too early to discuss it. Apparently, someone does not want to see me in the Knesset and began spreading rumors as part of his false campaign," Zoabi said.

Both Zahalka and Zoabi have made controversial, anti-Israel statements during their time as elected members of the Israeli parliament. Zahalka has stressed that he does not regret any of his statements, including saying that he "prefers to die than to sing the Israeli anthem," and that the Israeli flag was "worse than a rag."

Zoabi has in the past said she views sovereign Israeli territory as “occupied” Palestinian territory. Just last week she was reprimanded by the Knesset Ethics Committee after she said during a speech in the Knesset plenum that civilians in Gaza were "murdered by soldiers."

Days later, during a debate on a bill authorizing the expulsion of the families of terrorists, Zoabi described terrorists as “freedom fighters”.




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