MK Haneen Zoabi, serving in Israel’s Knesset since 2009, on Thursday told Gulf News: “We do not receive orders from Netanyahu and Israel.” This was in response to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s barring of cabinet ministers and lawmakers from visiting the Temple Mount, fearing that high-profile visitors, Jewish or Arab, would further inflame tensions in the already high strung Jerusalem.
Zoabi, who’s been presenting herself as a Palestinian member of Israel’s parliament—although she is a registered Israeli citizen, also told Gulf News Netanyahu’s order was “a mere hysteric reaction,” and declared: “We challenge this ban order. Let them try us. We will regularly and increasingly visit Al Haram Al Sharif (the Arab name for the Temple Mount) to protect it. We do not receive orders from Netanyahu and Israel. Our relationship with occupied East Jerusalem and Al Haram Al Sharif does not pass through Israel and Netanyahu does not have anything to do with it.”
The problem is, MK Zoabi is beholden to both Netanyahu and Israel, in accordance with the 1958 Knesset Laws: “A Knesset member shall make a declaration of allegiance; the declaration shall read as follows: ‘I pledge myself to bear allegiance to the State of Israel and faithfully to discharge my mandate in the Knesset.’ Where the Chairman of the Knesset has called upon a member of the Knesset to make his declaration of allegiance and the member has not done so, the member shall not enjoy the rights of a member of the Knesset so long as he has not made the declaration.”
Amendment 22 states: “Has the Knesset member been the holder of an additional non-Israeli citizenship, and the laws of the country whose citizenship he holds permit his release from such citizenship, he shall not declare allegiance until after he has done everything required on his part to be released from such citizenship, and he shall not enjoy the rights of a Knesset member until he makes his declaration.”
Since MK Zoabi has pledged her allegiance to the State of Israel, and has submitted herself to faithfully to discharge her mandate in the Knesset, which includes following the directives of the prime minister, her recent statement to the contrary is questionable at best. She also may not by law officially refer to herself as Palestinian, since “Palestinian” suggests having a dual citizenship, which would disqualify her from serving as an MK.
On Friday morning, MK Zoabi told News 10 TV that she and fellow Arab lawmakers are not seeking calm. “I do not want peace in the shadow of occupation, I want to fight,” she declared, explaining that when it comes to Israelis, “what does not work for the brain, may work through force.”
“The Palestinians in Israel want to prevent [Jewish] rioters from entering Al-Aqsa,” Zoabi insisted, adding a cultural observation: “We are for freedom of worship, but those for whom entry to the Al-Aqsa Mosque is natural are only Muslims.”
Haneen Zoabi used to be a poster child for Israeli-Arab co-existence, born in Nazareth to a political Muslim family (two of her relatives were MKs, one a deputy minister). Zoabi earned a BA in philosophy and psychology at Haifa University, and an MA in communications from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She was the first Israeli Arab citizen to graduate in media studies, and helped establish media classes in Arab schools. She started her career as a math teacher, graduating quickly to school inspector for the Israeli Ministry of Education.