Israeli Arab MKs Laud Turkey Move to Expel Israeli Envoy Over Gaza Flotilla

Hanin Zuabi, who participated in 2010 Gaza-bound flotilla which was raided by IDF soldiers, says Turkish move is the right response to Israel's 'continued disregard of human life.'

Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
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Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

Turkey was right to expel the Israeli ambassador over Israel's refusal to apologize for its raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, leading Israeli Arab MKs said on Friday in response to an earlier statement by the Turkish government.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced the downscale of diplomatic relations with Jerusalem, saying the move was a direct response to Israel's refusal to apologize for the deaths of nine Turkish nationals in the May 2010 raid.

Arab MK Hanin Zuabi Credit: Michal Palti

The implications of the downgrade are that the level of diplomatic representation in both countries will be scaled back from ambassador to first secretary. This means Israel's ambassador to Turkey, Gabby Levy, and his deputy, Ella Afek, will be expelled.

In response to the Turkish announcement, two of the Knesset's leading Israeli Arab voices later Friday voiced support of the decision to expel the Israeli envoy to Ankara, with United Arab List-Taal chairman Ahmed Tibi saying that "these days, whoever kills pays," adding that "eventually, Israeli arrogance will lead to an apology by the most extreme and arrogant of Israel's governments."

"In Turkey, the blood of those killed can be heard screaming from the soil and from the sea," Tibi added.

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Balad MK, and flotilla participant, MK Hanin Zuabi called the Turkish decision a "strong and dramatic move, but it is the "right response to a continued disregard of human life, of the pride of the nations of the regions, and of the sovereignty of neighboring states."

"Turkey will not be the last country to put an end to Israeli arrogance and aggressiveness," Zuabi added. The Israeli Arab MK also tied the recent wave of Israeli social protest with the Turkish move, saying that "just as Israelis are beginning to seriously consider a new social order, they must also consider a new diplomatic order in which Israel will pay a heavy price for its policy of oppression, occupation, and belligerence."

Zuabi's comments came after just over a month ago the Knesset Ethics Committee barred her from all plenum and committee sessions during the final two weeks of the Knesset' session. Zuabi's sanction was punishment for her participation in last year's flotilla to Gaza. Zuabi could still vote, but she was not able to participate in the debates.

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein informed the Knesset at the time that the police had finished their criminal investigation into Zuabi's role in the flotilla and had transferred their findings to the prosecution for a decision on whether to indict her.

The Ethics Committee had deferred its own deliberations on Zuabi's case until the police probe was finished.

The Ethics Committee said it imposed the penalty because Zuabi "dealt a severe blow to the dignity of the Knesset and the public's trust in the Knesset" by joining a venture whose organizer, Turkish group IHH, has been declared a banned terrorist organization in Israel, and whose goal was to break a blockade the state had imposed for security reasons."



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