Israeli Arab lawmaker banned from parliament

14:02, July 19, 2011      

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Israeli Arab lawmaker Hanin Zoabi was suspended on Monday from the Israeli Knesset parliament, as a result of her participation in last year's pro-Palestinian flotilla.

The Knesset's Ethnics Committee suspended Zoabi from all parliament activities, including attending any debates at the Knesset, until the end of the current summer session, which ends in two weeks. The committee made the decision after Zoabi boarded the Turkish vessel Mavi Marmara of the Gaza-bound flotilla in May, 2010.

Israeli commandos boarded the flotilla ships after the captains refused to turn away from Gaza. In the ensuing melee, nine passengers were killed and several soldiers were injured.

"The very participation in the flotilla, which was intended to break the naval blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip as part of the armed conflict with Hamas constitutes an action which hurts state security," the committee said in its decision.

The action against Zoabi came after several complaints against her filed by fellow members of the Knesset (MK) as well, according to local Ynet news service.

The Arab female lawmaker strongly condemned the Ethnics Committee in a statement, saying that her participation falls " within on MK's legitimate freedom of action". She described the suspension as a political punishment taken by racist far-right majority in the Knesset.

Zoabi told Xinhua on Monday that her participation in the flotilla was a human, moral and political duty aimed for lifting the inhuman siege against the people of Gaza.

Last week Zoabi was taken out of the Knesset hall by security officers after interrupting a speech by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the recently-passed anti-boycott laws. The Ethnics Committee later filed a complaint over her "disorderly misbehaviors."

Zoabi joined the blockade-busting flotilla last year and later lost her Knesset privileges, including a diplomatic passport and financial help for legal assistance. Some MKs accused her of abusing her status as a member of the Israeli parliament.

Source: Xinhua
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