Earlier this week, Knesset members (MK) of the Joint (Arab) List Hanin Zoabi, Jamal Zahalka and Basel Ghattas visited the families of some Palestinians killed by the Israeli occupation forces.
This Friday they spoke out to defend themselves once that now, they are being attacked by the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and by the majority of the Israeli political spectrum.
Their visit came after a request from the relatives of some Palestinians killed by the IOF whom bodies were not return to them.
“We are defending national and human dignity. It is our duty and our right. The real crime is holding onto bodies. It is our duty to do our utmost to get the bodies released,” MK Hanin Zoabi wrote in Arabic on her Facebook page on Friday.
Zoabi was referring to Israel’s policy of delaying the return of bodies of Palestinians killed by the IOF, in an effort to prevent their families to give them proper funerals.
Ghattas also took to Facebook on Friday to defend their actions, accusing Israel of “fascism,”:
“When the trumpets of fascism incite against us, it means that we are protecting human values. We condemn the incitement against party members [as they] perform their duty to help families to return the bodies of their children, which the Israeli authorities hold contrary to international laws and values.”
According to the Israeli media, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein filed complaints with Knesset’s Ethics Committee against the three of them.
“Israeli MKs who visit the families of terrorists who murdered Jews are not worthy of their Knesset seat. I have asked the Knesset speaker to see what actions can be taken against them over this disgrace,” Netanyahu said Thursday.
Yuli Edelstein stated that for him “the meeting constituted outright incitement and encouragement to commit murder. This meeting was a gross infringement against the Knesset and the State of Israel. I hope the High Court of Justice remembers this the next time it debates petitions seeking to disqualify potential MKs.”
Other Knesset members strongly condemned the meeting, and urged both the Ethics Committee and the Attorney General’s Office to censure Zoabi, Zahalka and Ghattas.
Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said:
“The Arab MKs are not missing an opportunity to support terrorism. They harm first and foremost their own public, they represent nothing and promote nothing except supporting terrorism and actively working against the State of Israel. The Arab public is the first that should come out against its representatives who act as agents of terrorism and not as its representatives in the Knesset.”
As stated by the Israeli news outlet the Jerusalem Post, if the Israeli Ethics Committee determines the visits of the three MKs were a violation, it can sanction them with suspensions of up to six months from all Knesset activity but voting – a punishment Zoabi received in the past for comments sympathizing with Hamas during Operation Protective Edge (2014 assault on the Gaza Strip) – or a new punishment that has yet to be used, docking their salaries.