(Illustration) Muslim women in Tulkarem
(Illustration) Muslim women in TulkaremIsrael news photo: Flash 90

A Hamas-affiliated Palestinian Authority lawmaker has been blamed in the latest “honor” killing to hit the PA Arab community.

Lawmaker Abdul-Rahman Zaidan allegedly coerced a PA resident from the town of Deir al-Ghosoun into taking his own daughter’s life.

The father’s allegations were reported by the Bethlehem-based Maan news agency, which stated that the father “put up posters in the village saying that the lawmaker was trying to convince family members to sign a petition to disown him.”

A short time after Zaidan allegedly circulated a petition asking that the father – a relative of his - be disowned for violating family norms, the man strangled his daughter, Thamar Zaidan.

According to a relative of the victim who spoke to Maan, Thamar had drawn negative attention when a man from a nearby village was caught drunk near her home. The Zaidan family intervened and the man was released, the relative said – and a short time later, Thamar was publicly disavowed, then murdered, by her father.

Thamar had previously stood up to community norms by divorcing her husband following a forced marriage at age 15.

Abdul-Rahman Zaidan did not deny signing a petition to disown Thamar’s father, but denied supporting her murder.

More than 50 members of the Zaidan family had signed the petition, which would have seen the father forced out of not only his home, but the entire Judea and Samaria region, Zaidan confirmed.

The purpose of the petition was to protect the honor of the Zaidan family, he said, which follows a conservative set of traditions and norms. However, Zaidan said that he opposes so-called “honor killing,” and believes it violates the teachings of Islam.

The victims of “honor” murders, most of them women, are killed by relatives for perceived violations of community norms, particularly norms pertaining to interaction between the sexes. Their death is seen as cleansing the family’s name.

Activists against honor killings slammed Zaidan despite his disavowal of the crime. Zaidan’s petition was “indirect incitement against women,” activist Sureida Abed Hussein was quoted as saying.

The PA-based Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counseling warned that the pace of “honor” murders has dramatically increased this year, with 25 “honor” killings so far in 2013 in Arab communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, compared to 13 reported killings in all of 2012.

Just days before Thamar Zaidan’s death, a PA woman confessed to the brutal murder of her 21-year-old, mentally disabled daughter. The victim was slain after falling pregnant.

In 2011, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas promised to change a PA law that lets murderers off with a mere six months or less in prison if they claim to have been motivated by the need to defend their “family honor.” However, in 2012, one of his aides revealed that there are no plans to change the law, as doing so could cause “serious problems” to the PA’s public image.