A-G Won't Indict MK Zuabi for Sailing in Gaza Flotilla

When Israeli naval commandos boarded the flotilla's lead vessel, the Mavi Marmara to enforce Israel's naval blockade of Gaza, they were attacked by the passengers.

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein on Thursday closed an investigation into MK Hanin Zuabi (Balad ) and other Israeli participants in last year's Turkish-sponsored flotilla to the Gaza Strip, after no evidence was found that any of them were involved in attacks on Israel Defense Forces soldiers.

When Israeli naval commandos boarded the flotilla's lead vessel, the Mavi Marmara, on May 31, 2010 to enforce Israel's naval blockade of Gaza, they were attacked by the passengers. The ensuing clashes left nine passengers dead and seven IDF soldiers wounded.

Police immediately opened an investigation, but stopped questioning the foreign nationals on the vessel early on at the request of the diplomatic-security cabinet. Instead, the foreigners were deported.

But the investigation of the Israeli passengers, of whom Zuabi was the most prominent, remained open until Thursday, when Weinstein, after studying the findings, decided to close the case.

In addition to the lack of evidence that they had participated in the violence, another reason for his decision was doubt over whether Israel had the authority to press charges against the suspects, since the alleged violations were committed outside of Israel's territorial waters. Moreover, while Israelis are legally forbidden to enter Gaza, it would be difficult to prove they actually planned to do so. The fact that potential witnesses had long since been deported from Israel also contributed to the decision.

As a result of Zuabi's involvement, the Knesset House Committee temporarily suspended some of her privileges as an MK. Interior Minister Eli Yishai also asked the attorney general for permission to rescind her citizenship, but this was denied.

Zuabi said on Thursday that Weinstein's decision did not surprise her.

"I insisted throughout this whole thing that my participation in the flotilla was legal, political and totally legitimate," she said, adding that she felt it was a moral, human obligation even more than a political obligation.

She said she had gone through a difficult period as a target of incitement and delegitimization, and "I think there's room for an apology from those MKs who incited against me." While she didn't actually expect any apologies, she added, she hoped the MKs in question would do some soul-searching.

MK Ofir Akunis (Likud ), who heads the Likud party's response team, said, "The decision to close the case against MK Hanin Zuabi and [Islamic Movement leader] Ra'ad Salah, who were actively involved in the terror attack against IDF soldiers, is scandalous. As I noted from the Knesset podium, as Likud's representative on the Elections Committee for the 19th Knesset, I will work to disqualify Zuabi from running for the next Knesset. She has no place in the Israeli Knesset."

MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima ) was not pleased, either. "The attorney general, with his decision, has given a green light to grave acts like those committed by MK Zuabi and [other] Arab elected officials."

MK Anastasia Michaeli (Yisrael Beiteinu ) said Zuabi "is doing her work as a destroyer of Israel faithfully, so I don't have any complaints against her. But [Weinstein's] decision gives a tailwind and a medal of honor to terror, in Israel and worldwide."