Knesset Ethics Committee to Probe Arab Lawmakers' Trip to Qatar

Knesset Members Haneen Zoabi, Basel Ghattas and Jamal Zahalka travelled to Qatar without securing the committee's approval, and are refusing to say who funded the trip.

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MK Haneen Zoabi has been assigned a security guard following a wave of threats after she criticized Israel's reaction to trhe kidnapping in Gush Etzion.
MK Haneen Zoabi has been assigned a security guard following a wave of threats after she criticized Israel's reaction to trhe kidnapping in Gush Etzion.Credit: Tomer Noiberg

The Knesset Ethics Committee will convene within the next few days to discuss the trip to Qatar last week by three Balad Knesset members and how it was funded.

The lawmakers, Basel Ghattas, Jamal Zahalka and Haneen Zoabi ostensibly violated Knesset rules because they did not get permission from the committee to make the trip, nor did they report who had funded it.

The three are refusing to divulge who paid for the trip. Balad faction chairman Zahalka said ethics committee approval was not sought “for technical reasons,” and that he plans to get retroactive approval from the committee in the coming days.

During their trip, the three met with former Balad chairman Azmi Bishara, who fled Israel in 2007 during a police investigation of allegations that he had spied on behalf of Hezbollah during the Second Lebanon War.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman wrote on his Facebook page Monday, “The trip by members of Balad, the party that was founded and led by Azmi Bishara, who was accused of serious espionage and fled Israel, proves decisively once again to those who are still skeptical that there is no place for them in the Israeli Knesset.”

MK Yifat Kariv (Yesh Atid) was also critical of the three, saying, “Operation Protective Edge has not yet ended, quiet has yet to be restored in the south, Gaza residents are trying to rehabilitate the destruction that Hamas brought down on them, and instead of remaining in the country to assist, the members of the Balad party choose to fly to Qatar, a country that funnels money to a well-oiled terror machine, and meet with traitor Azmi Bishara.

“At the start of the [military] operation I contacted the attorney general and the Knesset speaker with a request to examine the relationship between the Balad Party, Qatar, and Azmi Bishara. There’s no doubt that the connection is proven and I call to examine immediately whether that’s not sufficient grounds to rescind their immunity and make [their party] illegal immediately. Zoabi, Zahalka, and Ghattas are exploiting their Israeli immunity while actually enjoying Qatari immunity.”

Balad issued a statement condemning “the unbridled incitement by MKs and ministers against the members who went to Qatar. The trip was totally legal, and all the requests for the attorney general to open an investigation are a cheap trick by right-wing MKs and ministers to grab headlines.”

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