The decision is just one of several that have targeted the Arab Knesset member over the past year.
Israel’s Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein announced Tuesday that he has decided to indict MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad) for incitement to violence and disgracing a public official. Weinstein summoned Zoabi to a pre-indictment hearing, upon the recommendation of several legal experts, where she will be able to plead her case.
The indictment relates to a hearing at a Nazareth courthouse in July of this year, where Zoabi allegedly insulted policemen guarding the building. According to the state prosecutor’s office, Zoabi called two Arab police officers “traitors,” threatened them and told a protesting crowd to spit in their faces.
According to Weinstein, “MK Zoabi’s statements indicated that she called for violence against the police officers that were at the scene, as well as other police officers of Arab descent who also work against Arab suspects. She encouraged similar acts of violence, which according to her statements, the way she said them, and the circumstances, there was a real possibility of her words leading to acts of violence against Arab police officers, particularly the ones at the scene, to which her words were directed.”
Zoabi’s attorney, Hassan Jabareen, responded to Weinstein’s announcement, saying “the state prosecutor’s office does not usually put elected officials on trial for momentary and spontaneous statements made during the heat of public political action, and thus if an indictment is issued, the prosecutor’s office will have to explain its discrimination against MK Zoabi to the court, since in dozens of similar and even more extreme cases, no indictments were issued, nor were any investigations opened.”
Right-wing MKs praised the decision, with Avigdor Liberman stating that Zoabi should be tried for “consistently undermining the State of Israel.” Miri Regev called to remove Zoabi’s diplomatic immunity and “kick her out of the Knesset.”
The announcement comes just one month after the High Court of Justice rejected Zoabi’s appeal to overturn her six-month suspension from parliamentary discussions for a political opinion she expressed on the radio in June, in the wake of the kidnapping of the three Yeshiva students in the West Bank.
In their decision, the justices wrote that while recognizing that her suspension is in fact extreme compared with past punishments, they are nonetheless ruling to uphold it ”in light of the petitioner’s harsh words and the timing in which she said them,” referring to the fact that Zoabi said in June that the Palestinian kidnappers of the three Israeli teenagers (before their fate was known) are “not terrorists.”
Zoabi was also the target of a recent election campaign video by Likud MK Danny Danon, which depicts her as a traitor, terrorist and murderer.