Israel's "democratic" parliament silences politicians who stand up for Palestinians, passes rules to limit the ability of Arabs to get elected, and outlaws political parties that might become "a problem." If all else fails, they parliament might even strip you of your citizenship.
|Haneen Zoabi. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)|
The Israeli parliament, or Knesset, voted by 68 to 16 to endorse a decision in late July by its ethics committee to bar Zoabi from the chamber for what it termed “incitement.”
It is the longest suspension in the Knesset’s history and the maximum punishment allowed under Israeli law.
At a press conference, Zoabi denounced her treatment as “political persecution.”
“By distancing me from the Knesset, basically they’re saying they don’t want Arabs, and only want ‘good Arabs.’ We won’t be ‘good Arabs,’” she said.
The Knesset’s confirmation of Zoabi’s suspension comes as she faces a criminal trial for incitement in a separate case and as the Knesset considers stripping her of citizenship.
But Zoabi is not the only Palestinian representative in the firing line. Earlier this year the Knesset raised the threshold for election to the parliament, in what has been widely interpreted as an attempt to exclude all three small parties representing the Palestinian minority. One in five citizens of Israel belong to the minority.
In addition, it emerged last week that a bill is being prepared to outlaw the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, the only extra-parliamentary party widely supported by Palestinian citizens.
Along with Zoabi, the Islamic Movement’s leader, Sheikh Raed Salah, has been among the most vocal critics of Israeli policies, especially over the al-Aqsa mosque compound in occupied Jerusalem.