The negative impact of Israeli Arab Knesset members on chances for peace


Knesset Member. Haneen Zoabi. suspended form the Knesset

By Gideon

As the largest representative of the Arab Israeli community in the Israeli Parliament, one would think that the Joint List party would work to build bridges between the Israeli Arab and Jewish communities for a peaceful co-existence. However, time and again the party is taking a hard line against the Jewish majority in Israel that sometimes bordering treason. It makes the Jewish-Israelis skeptical about a potential peace, and make them resist any change to the status quo.  

While regular Israelis (Arab and Jews) learned to live mostly peacefully in coexistence, the Arab leadership in the Knesset aims to disrupt this delicate balance and create chaos, as if their main purpose is to stir unrest in Israel. Something that is only going to hurt the population that elected them to office.

Are they represent themselves, or their voters? 

“The Joint List is the perfect example of the Law of Unintended Consequences. With the intention of improving the quality of ‘governance’ in Israel, Avigdor Lieberman promoted the idea of raising the threshold for representation in the Knesset. A law raising the threshold to 3.25 percent was passed in the last Knesset and faced the three diverse Arab factions represented in the Knesset with the choice of uniting or risking disappearing from the parliament. It was a gun-shot marriage, as the three Arab parties appeared in the present Knesset in a ‘united’ front.” – Haaretz

There have been Israeli Arab members of the Knesset (Israeli parliament) ever since the first Knesset elections in 1949.

The Joint List was formed in the build-up to the 2015 elections as an alliance of Balad, Hadash, Ta’al and the United Arab List (the southern branch of the Islamic Movement). The northern branch of the Islamic Movement denounced the entire electoral project. Arab-Israeli Communists, Nasserists, and Islamists, political leaders are the leaders of the new party.

The Joint List received 13 seats in the Israeli legislative election, 2015 with 10.55% of the total vote, becoming the third-largest party in the 20th Knesset.

Provocative actions by Knesset Members of the Joint List

January 2017 – Basel Ghattas, an Arab-israeli man, Knesset member, is about to be ousted from the Kennest and stand a criminal trial after he was caught smuggling cell phones to Palestinian security prisoners.

October 2016 – All members of the Joint List were invited to visit the family of Baha Alian, who was part of a two-man terrorist team that killed Haim Aviv, Alon Govberg and Richard Lakin on a bus in Jerusalem. The three-member Nasserist component of the Joint List, Balad, accepted the invitation, while the others stayed away. These three – Jamal Zahalka, Haneen Zoabi and Basel Ghattas – don’t miss an opportunity to create provocations that demonstrate their hate of Israel and enrage most of Israel’s citizens, Jews and Arabs alike.

“Flaunting their immunity as Knesset members, there seem to be no limits to what they are prepared to do. The founder and former leader of Balad, Azmi Bishara, fled Israel amid allegations of treason and espionage, and is now in Qatar. He may be the example they are trying to emulate.

Refusing to condemn the murderers, Zahalka insists that they are ‘victims of the occupation.’ In other words, according to him, it is ‘the occupation’ that is responsible for the death of Aviv, Govberg and Lakin, and not the Palestinian terrorists who killed them. The same presumably is the case for Nashat Milhem, who did not live under the ‘occupation,’ and the two 13-year-old girls who lived in Ramle and knifed a guard there on Thursday.

Improving relations between Jews and Arabs in Israel is obviously not one of the objectives of Zahalka, Zoabi, and Ghattas. It is important to dispel the impression they create, and that the chairman of the Joint Arab List, Ayman Odeh, publicly distances himself from them and make it clear that these three represent only themselves.” – Haaretz

July 2014 – Haneen Zoabi, an Arab-Israeli woman, Knesset member, five days after the kidnapping by Palestinians of three Israeli teenagers (who were later found murdered), Zoabi said, “Is it strange that people living under occupation and living impossible lives, in a situation where Israel kidnaps new prisoners every day, is it strange that they kidnap? They are not terrorists. Even if I do not agree with them, they are people who do not see any way to change their reality, and they are compelled to use means like these”.

Many Israeli public figures criticized Zoabi’s words. The Israeli attorney general Yehuda Weinstein ordered an investigation of Zoabi on charges of incitement and public disgrace. On 29 July, Zoabi was suspended from the Knesset plenum for a duration of six months. During that time, she was not allowed to address the Knesset or its committees. Zoabi’s appeal to Israel’s Supreme Court to overturn the suspension was rejected.

May 2010 – Haneen Zoabi participated in the Gaza flotilla, and was on board the MV Mavi Marmara when violence broke out as Israeli commandos boarded the ship. Zoabi was arrested and briefly held by authorities. A Knesset committee voted 7–1 to recommend her parliamentary immunity be revoked. It was ultimately blocked by Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, who ignored the recommendation and declined to submit it to a vote of the full Knesset. He and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hoped that sparing Zoabi would protect Israel from further international condemnation over its Gaza blockade and its military’s actions aboard the Mavi Marmara.