Israeli Arab MK Zoabi Questioned by Police in Incitement Inquiry

Investigation focuses on her remarks to Arab police officers, including calling them 'collaborators.'

Yaniv Kubovich
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Knesset Member Haneen Zoabi attending a rally in Haifa against the Israeli military operation in Gaza, July 18, 2014, surrounded by police.
Yaniv Kubovich

MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad) reported to the police for questioning on Monday after having refused to do so the week before.

She is being investigated on suspicion of incitement to violence and insulting a civil servant, due to comments she made about Arab police officers, including calling them “collaborators.”

About 10 right-wing activists were waiting for her at the entrance to the police station. When she arrived, they hurled insults at her and clashed with police stationed nearby.

Zoabi had declined to show up last week because she said she first wanted to see all the evidence against her. She had also demanded a detailed report from the police about how they are dealing with her own complaint of incitement directed against her.

But Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein said her privileges as a legislator did not include the right to refuse to report for questioning or the right to see the evidence before she was questioned. “In recent years, many Knesset members and ministers have been investigated, and they have reported for questioning without setting conditions,” a statement from his office added.

As for how police are dealing with her own complaint, the statement said she could not condition the progress of one investigation in which she is concerned on progress in another. Nevertheless, it added, she can assume that the police will report their conclusions to her as soon as they finish investigating her complaint.

Zoabi’s office then responded with its own statement: “After receiving a detailed response from the Attorney General’s Office, in which he officially stated the subject of the investigation and also addressed the complaint MK Zoabi filed against those who incited against her, MK Zoabi will report to the police, as she always said she would, and give her version of events in full,” it said.

Police are investigating Zoabi over statements made in a Nazareth courthouse during remand hearings for several Arabs arrested during demonstrations.

Two Arab policemen complained that during those hearings, Zoabi made offensive statements to them about being Arabs who served in the police. Among other things, they said, she called them “collaborators with the oppressor against their own people”; said other Arabs “should wipe the floor with them” and “should spit in their faces”; and told them “they should be afraid” of Arab youths.

Weinstein approved the probe against her two weeks ago.