Arab members of the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) who are voted in by their Arab constituency, that is ca. 20% of the Israeli population (not to be confused with the Palestinians who are not Israeli citizens), often engage in conduct that in almost any state in the world would be regarded as traitorous.
For example, MK Hanan Zouabi was aboard the Turkish vessel Mavi Marmara when it tried to break the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza and during which there was a violent clash between the passengers and the Israeli commandos, who were armed only with pistols. As a result of this action many Israeli soldiers were injured and 8 Turks were killed. MK Zouabi supported the aims of the flotilla to break the legal Israeli naval blockade.
Whatever your opinion on the rights and wrongs of this situation anyone must admit that this is not the conduct expected of a member of Parliament of the country which is enforcing the blockade. It would be as if a Member of Congress not only disagreed with the US invasion of Iraq (that many did) but went and supported Saddam Hussein’s forces. Hanan Zouabi and many other Arab MK’s have not hid their support for Hamas in Gaza, and for other Arab/Muslim enemies of Israel. For example, MK Azmi Bishara broke the law by visiting Head of Hizbollah Sheikh Nasrallah in Lebanon and advising him what targets to attack in Israel during the Second Lebanon War. Not surprisingly Bishara chose not to return to Israel in 2007 to avoid prosecution and was even paid his Knesset pension until a law was passed to stop that.
However, one should not conclude that all Arab MK’s are similarly politically inclined. There are currently 17 Arab MK’s out of 120 total and they include Muslim, Christian, Druse and Beduin, and cover the political spectrum from extreme leftist to Islamic extremism as well as Arab nationalists. The Druse are especially pro-Israel and the Beduin are distinct since they tend to oppose all authority.
At various times attempts have been made to somehow censor or punish Arab MKS’s for their openly traitorous activities that are designed to destroy the very country that they are sworn to represent. However, all the previous attempts have come up against the claim, mainly by the left, that these would be against freedom of speech. However, this is not really the case, since no one is trying to prevent them saying what they think, only that they should not undertake actions as members of Parliament that are traitorous to the State of Israel.
This situation came to a head last week when three MK’s, Hannan Zouabi, Jamal Zahalka and Basel Ghattas, went to the funeral of three Palestinian terrorists who had stabbed to death a female Israeli soldier and wounded others in Jerusalem. At the funeral Zouabi spoke of the terrorists as heroes and martyrs to the Palestinian cause. I don’t think anyone would be surprised that a Palestinian would think this, but not an elected member of the Israeli Knesset to state it publicly. It would be as if a British MP went and lauded the terrorists who stabbed the British soldier to death on the street in London, or a French MP supported publicly the terrorists who shot up Paris. This would be considered traitorous conduct, going well beyond freedom of speech.
What to do about this situation? PM Netanyahu has introduced legislation into the Knesset that would allow individual members of the Knesset to be suspended for “inappropriate behavior” by a special majority of 75% (90 members) of the legislature. The law itself would require a normal majority of 61 votes to pass, which means that it is likely to be adopted. Whether or not 90 votes could be found to suspend Zouabi or any other Arab MK’s remains to be seen. It could only happen if enough left-wing (labor) MK’s agree that their actions are indeed “inappropriate.” Let’s hope they do see them for what they are, enemies of Israel operating within the legislative body of the State.