Three Arab-Israeli MKs suspended for meeting with terrorists’ families

(JTA) – Three Arab-Israeli Knesset members have been suspended from the parliament for meeting with the families of Palestinians who were killed while perpetrating terror attacks.

The Knesset Ethics Committee approved the disciplinary move against Haneen Zoabi, Basel Ghatta and Jamal Zahalka – members of the Joint Arab List’s Balad faction – on Monday, i24news reported.

Zoabi and Ghatta are suspended for four months, while Zahalka received a two-month suspension. While suspended, they may not participate in Knesset meetings, but will be allowed to vote and attend committee meetings.

Also Monday, 90 Knesset members voted in favour of advancing legislation that would allow MKs to be suspended or expelled for engaging in “behaviour inappropriate for their position as a member of the Knesset.” The legislation advanced to the Knesset Law and Justice Committee, according to Haaretz.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proposed the legislation in response to the visit last week by Zoabi, Ghatta and Zahalka with families of several assailants who killed or tried to kill Israelis. They include Baha Alian, who allegedly killed three Israelis and wounded a dozen others in an Oct. 13 terror attack on a bus.

The MKs met Thursday with the families of three Palestinian attackers whose bodies at the time had not been returned to their families, a punitive measure used by Israel. They reportedly observed a moment of silence in memory of the dead terrorists. An agreement in principle to return the bodies reportedly was reached on Monday.

On Sunday, Netanyahu accused the MKs of “building walls of hatred” and said any MK who visits families of terrorists should “not serve in the Israeli Knesset.”

Two members of the opposition Zionist Union party – its leader, Isaac Herzog, and Tzipi Livni – oppose the measure. However, Herzog also criticized the Balad faction, saying its MKs “constantly provoke the state and support terror.”

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