MK Hanin Zoabi
MK Hanin Zoabi Israel news photo: Flash 90

In a recent interview she made to a website identified with the Palestinian Authority, Knesset Member Hanin Zoabi (Balad) said that she does not represent Israel, but rather represents a struggle that does not recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

Speaking to the website Elaph, Zoabi said: “Our voice is painful to the Israeli public on national issues, because it feels we are a threat to the state. Therefore, when we demand national rights, we threaten the Jewishness of the state. It's true, but it's not my problem, this is the problem of the racist definition of the state (of Israel) as a Jewish state.”

During the interview which was translated by MEMRI, Zoabi identified herself as a Palestinian and dismissed the definition of the State of Israel as a Jewish state. She also criticized the Palestinian Authority, who according to her, no longer represents the “Palestinian rights” as she put it. Zoabi called on the PA to also include Arab Israelis in its ranks.

Zoabi has had a history of actions and sayings against the State of Israel. She was a passenger aboard the Mavi Marmara, who was part of the Gaza aid flotilla, and was raided by IDF forces who were attacked by its passengers as they attempted to board. Following the incident, Zoabi accused Israel of failing to provide wounded activists with medical attention, and referred to the blockade of Hamas and the Israeli presence in Judea and Samaria as “the big crime of Israel.”

As a result of her participation in the flotilla, the Knesset voted on July 13 to strip Zoabi of three privileges: the use of a diplomatic passport, government participation in legal fees, and enhanced freedoms regarding international travel.

When asked during the interview with Elaph how does she expect a country of whose parliament she is a member, to remain silent over her participation in the flotilla, Zoabi said:

“My situation is different. I do not represent the State of Israel nor do I speak for the State of Israel, but rather in the name of a struggle that performs the exact opposite of the role of the Israeli Knesset, according to its vision.”

Zoabi added: “In my case, there is no correlation between my identity and the identity of the state whose citizenship I carry. The state makes every effort to place my identity in full contradiction with its definition of itself and of its role as a place of refuge for Jews everywhere. In my case, I say that Israel is a Jewish state that does not represent me and is nothing but a racist  state.”

Zoabi was also asked by Elaph how she views the future of the relationship between the State of Israel (and its institutions) and the Arab Israelis, “in the shadow of destruction of houses and the tightening of the noose around the necks of Palestinians in Israel,” as the interviewer put it. Her response was: “If Israel continues its policy, we will go toward a confrontation with the state. Palestinians [inside Israel] will not agree that the current situation continues as it is.”

On Tuesday, Zoabi was interviewed by the UN human rights inquiry on the Gaza aid flotilla. After her testimony, she told AP that "it was evident from the beginning that the commandoes viewed all of us activists as terrorists. Israel's use of large numbers of elite troops with sophisticated weaponry showed it intended to kill the passengers. We were very peaceful activists, but the commandoes came to kill.”

In the past, Zoabi has said that she welcomed Iran's nuclear plans as a counterforce  to the State of Israel.

The Balad Party

Balad, Zoabi's  political party, formed in 1995 by a group headed by Azmi Bishara, supports the creation of two states based on 1949 borders, one Arab and one binational, with the implementation of the right of return for all Arabs who lived in Israel at that time and their descendants. Bishara entered the Knesset after the 1999 elections.

In 2002  Bishara was indicted for assisting Israeli citizens to enter Syria without approval of the Minister of Interior and for speeches praising HIzbullah. The trial was  cancelled after Israel's Supreme Court  ruled that he had parliamentary immunity.

The Knesset Central Elections Committee  banned the party from running in 2003 elections, on the grounds that it did not recognize Israel as a Jewish state and supported terrorism. The ban was overturned by the Supreme Court, which said that Israel's democracy can withstand the party's stance.

After the 2006 elections, Balad's three MK's visited Syria against Israeli law.In April 2007, Bishara fled Israel and resigned from the Knesset following a police investigation into his assistance to Hizbullah during during the 2006 Lebanon War,

Balad was once again disqualified from the 2009 elections by the Knesset's Central Elections Committee by a vote of 26 to three, , but the Supreme Court of Israel overturned the Committee's decision by a majority of eight to one.