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Israeli-Arab lawmaker Hanin Zoabi censured in Knesset

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli-Arab lawmaker Hanin Zoabi was censured over statements she made encouraging Palestinian “popular resistance” and saying that the kidnappers of three Israeli teens were not terrorists.

Zoabi, of the Israeli-Arab Balad party, will be barred from all parliamentary activity, including debate on the Knesset floor, for the next six months, according to Tuesday’s ruling by the Knesset Ethics Committee.

On Wednesday the Knesset will go on recess until October.

The censure came a day after the Attorney General’s office decided not to order a police investigation of Zoabi for statements in which she said the kidnappers of three Israeli teens who were later found dead were not terrorists.

“They are people that cannot see any way to change their reality, and they are forced to use these means until Israeli society wises up a bit and sees and feels the suffering of the other,” Zoabi said in a radio interview. Several Israeli lawmakers called for Zoabi’s arrest on charges of incitement to violence or terror, following the remarks.

“We examined Zoabi’s statements meticulously and found that on the one hand, Zoabi said she did not see the kidnappers as a terrorist group, but on the other, she expressed reservations about the kidnapping,” Deputy Attorney General Raz Nizri said, according to Haaretz. “This creates a difficulty in seeing the statements as incitement to commit kidnapping.”

On Friday, Israel’s attorney general, Yehuda Weinstein, ordered police to open a criminal investigation of Zoabi for incitement during rallies in Arab-Israeli communities against the Gaza operation and for insulting two police officers.

During a demonstration earlier this month in Haifa, police handcuffed Zoabi for unruly behavior at a demonstration in which protesters clashed with police. She was released due to her parliamentary immunity after a senior police officer recognized her.

Zoabi, who participated in the 2010 flotilla sail to Gaza organized by the Islamic IHH group in Turkey, recently angered right-wing lawmakers with articles she penned that they interpreted as advice to Hamas on how to defeat Israel and as a call for violence against Israel.

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