Anderson MEP condemns Israeli suspension of Arab Parliamentarians

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has condemned the Israeli suspension of three Arab Parliamentarians and called on the International community to demand that Israel conform to acceptable democratic principles.

Ms Anderson said:

“Israel is fond of claiming to be the only democracy in the Middle East, therefore, it needs to demonstrate this by abiding by the basic principles of democracy one of which is the right of parliamentarians to fulfil their obligations as elected representatives without interference.

“On Monday 8 February, the Knesset Ethic committee suspended two Arab Palestinian legislators, Mrs. Haneen Zo’abi and Mr. Basel Ghattas, for four months and MK Jamal Zahalka for a period of two months from all Knesset activities except voting. 

“Netanyahu’s coalition government also approved a new draft bill which will enable the suspension of Arab parliamentarians for making political statements related to issues of so-called national loyalty to the Jewish state or is interpreted as an apology for terrorism if  90 Members of parliament (of the 120-seat Knesset) vote to do so.

“These undemocratic suspensions follow a recent meeting by the three parliamentarians with families of Palestinian killed in alleged attacks on Israelis. This meeting was deemed unacceptable and showing public support for ‘terrorist’ attacks against Israelis. 

“This meeting took place following a humanitarian request to the Israeli police for the return of the bodies of their relatives in order that they could bury them. In what is seen as an act of collective punishment the Israeli government keep possession of the bodies for months after the deaths.

“By any measure of international standards these actions by the Israeli government are undemocratic and an affront to human decency.

“The international community must insist that Israel rescind discriminatory laws that allow for punitive punishment and expulsion of democratically elected representatives on the grounds of ethnicity or political persuasion for what is generally accepted as fabricated security reasons.

“The suspension of these Arab parliamentarians must be lifted immediately.”