Netanyahu Vows to Work to Oust Israeli Arab MK Who Called Soldiers Murderers

Ethics Committee expected to severely punish Zoabi in the next few days and sources in coalition say her comments could help bill allowing MKs to be removed to turn into law.

Following a stormy Knesset session that resulted in MK Haneen Zoabi's removal from the plenum on Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he is working to advance her expulsion from the legislature.

A clash broke out at the Knesset plenum on Wednesday when Zoabi (Joint List) called Israeli soldiers who participated in the takeover of the 2010 Gaza flotilla "murderers." Her comments took place during a session on the reconciliation agreement with Turkey, formally announced a day earlier.

"I spoke again this evening with the attorney general to consider advancing the process of expelling Haneen Zoabi from the Knesset. In her actions and her lies, she's crossed every line and she has no place in the Knesset," Netanyahu said.

Coalition members assessed Wednesday evening that the clash with Zoabi in the Knesset would give strong tailwind to move forward with the so-called suspension bill, giving it a substantial push before the end of the summer session. In an unusual occurrance, the bill, which would allow the Knesset to remove a sitting Knesset member, is being led by the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee of the Knesset. The committee is expected to renew discussions on the subject next week.

Meanwhile, the Ethics Committee is expected to severely punish Zoabi in the next few days. Two MKs, Nahman Shai (Zionist Union) and Amir Ohana (Likud) have already submitted complaints against her to the committee that is authorized to punish MKs over their conduct.

At the plenum, Zoabi said that "I stood here six years ago, some of you remember the hatred and hostility toward me, and look where we got to. Apologies to the families of those who were called terrorists. The nine that were killed, it turns out that their families need to be compensated.

"I demand an apology to all the political activists who were on the Marmara and an apology to MK Haneen Zoabi, who you've incited against for six years. I demand compensation and I will donate it to the next flotilla. As long as there's a siege, more flotillas need to be organized."

Turkey and Israel reconciled on Tuesday after a six-year rift. The agreement renormalizes diplomatic relations between the two countries and ends the crisis that erupted following the death of nine Turkish civilians during a raid by Israeli commandos on the Mavi Marmara flotilla to Gaza Strip in May 2010 – on which Zoabi was also present.

Coalition chairman David Bitan (Likud) also endorsed expelling Zoabi from the Knesset.

"We need to all unify, regardless of politics, to remove only one MK from the Knesset. MK Haneen Zoabi. We need to do so even if it will be a specific law for that Knesset member," he said. He added that he intends to suggest to Netanyahu to exchange the law to expel incumbent lawmakers for a law that will bring only to Zoabi's expulsion from the Knesset.

A bill to depose lawmakers who have expressed support of terror or racism, or who have voiced opposition to Israel's character as a Jewish and democratic state, is currently being advanced in the Knesset's Constitution, Law and Justice Committee.

Wednesday's incident wasn’t Zoabi's first controversy. As well as participating in the 2010 Gaza flotilla, which resulted in clashes with the IDF, Zoabi came under fire for suggesting in 2014 that the Palestinian kidnappers of three Israeli teens who were then murdered were not terrorists. At the time of Zoabi's comments, the fate of the three teens was not yet known. She was then suspended from addressing the Knesset plenum and committees for six months.

Last January, Zoabi was convicted of insulting a public servant for making offensive remarks to Arab policemen in a Nazareth courthouse in 2014.

In February, the Knesset suspended Zoabi, as well as fellow Joint List MKs Basel Ghattas and Jamal Zahalka, for their meeting with the families of slain Palestinian terrorists. The lawmakers were barred from attending the Knesset plenum, but were still able to vote.

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Video of the Week New Clashes Erupt Between Israeli Security Forces, Muslim Worshippers

Temple Mount temporarily closed to Jewish visitors after clashes with police




The Temple Mount was temporarily closed to Jewish visitors on Wednesday at the order of Jerusalem District Commander Yoram Halevy after Jews broke visitation rules at the holy site, police said. The Jewish visitors were expelled from the compound for bringing sacred books to the Mount and trying to pray there. After one of the individuals was cautioned, another took out a holy book, and the group was expelled. Meanwhile, renewed clashes erupted between protesters and Israeli security forces near the Lion's Gate in the Old City, where police used stun grenades against the demonstrators. A regular dynamic has developed involving clashes between Palestinians and Israel Police over the past several days near the Lion's Gate. Dozens of Palestinians are present at the site on a regular basis, urging devotion to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount and condemning Israel. During Muslim prayer times, particularly the midday and nighttime prayers, hundreds and sometimes even thousands have been gathering there.

There have been outbreaks of violence during these periods, including stone-throwing or physical confrontations with the police. In most of these incidents, the police have been using stun grenades and sponge-tipped bullets to disperse the crowds. In a number of cases, journalists in the area have also suffered violence at the hands of the police. On Tuesday, Hassan Shaalan, a reporter for the Ynet news website, was struck by a policeman even after he identified himself as a member of the press. A group of Jerusalem-based journalists released a statement of condemnation over the incident and called on the police to permit reporters to do their jobs. The Jerusalem Police responded: "This involved an incident that took place in the course of violent disturbances of the peace that occurred in Jerusalem while the police were acting to remove the demonstrators from the street after some of them refused to vacate. The forces working on the scene are under constant threat to their lives. http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.802141

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