The General Administrative Authority of the Knesset (Israel's parliament) has been discussing a recommendation by a parliamentary committee to withdraw MP's rights from Arab member Haneen Zoubi. The recommendation was made following her participation in the Freedom Flotilla in May. The Committee approved the withdrawal of Zoubi's rights by a vote of seven to one. The decision will become effective if it is ratified by the General Authority.
The decision could lead to Zoubi's parliamentary passport being withdrawn and the MP being unable to claim an allowance for the costs of legal proceedings, as well as some rights relating to overseas travel.
The Committee meeting at which these sanctions were approved was held in a heated atmosphere, and came after an unprecedented hearing during which were attempts were made to assault Ms Zoubi.
Zoubi's participation in the flotilla prompted hysterical reactions in Israel. Nine Turkish civilians were killed by Israeli commandos who attacked and hijacked the humanitarian convoy in international waters.
The Parliamentary Assembly bloc in the Kneaset has contacted the Global Inter-Parliamentary Union to explain the campaign of incitement and threats against Ms Zoubi and the proposed sanctions for exercising her right to engage in political activities.
The Secretary-General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union has sent a sharply- worded letter to the President of the Knesset and requested further clarification about the case, stressing that the Union will discuss the issue during its session in the next few days.
The bloc also approached a large number of parliaments and international organizations seeking a show of solidarity. Hundreds of supportive messages have been sent to Haneen Zoubi, as well as protest letters to the Speaker of the Knesset and the heads of all of the parliamentary parties and groupings.
The bloc has held a public meeting after which it issued a statement confirming its full support for Ms Zoubi for her participation in the flotilla. Such action falls within the framework of the campaign carried out by the Assembly against the illegal blockade of the Gaza Strip.
The statement also stressed that the persecution of Zoubi will not discourage the bloc and its leaders from pursuing political action in defence of the historical rights of the Palestinian people and against the policies and practices of the Israeli occupation authorities.
The statement continued to describe the campaign against Zoubi as "political hysteria" resulting from the breach of the conspiracy of silence in parliament on the situation in the Gaza Strip, which exposed Israel to serious international criticism and pressure. The bloc agreed to mobilize international support to defend the right of the Palestinians to exercise their political rights.
In conclusion, the statement said that the MP did her duty and exercised her political right, and the campaign against her exposes the hypocrisy of the Israeli democracy.