Netanyahu Asking for Sanctions Against Pro-Terrorist Arab MKs

Balad MKs do not deserve to be in the Knesset after they visited terrorists’ families, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday evening.

The comment came in response to three Joint List lawmakers’ meeting with 10 families of terrorists this week, including one who killed three Israelis. MKs Jamal Zahalka, Haneen Zoabi and Basel Ghattas, all from the Balad party that is part of the Joint List, met with the families of terrorists whose bodies have not been released by authorities.

Netanyahu and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein examined what steps can be taken against the legislators, and decided to personally submit complaints to the Knesset Ethics Committee about them.

The prime minister also sought Attorney-General Avihai Mandelblit’s opinion on the matter.

“It cannot be that when innocent civilians are being slaughtered on the streets of Israel, MKs go to comfort [the terrorists’ families] and with incomparable audacity, even bring their requests to the government,” Edelstein said. “I see this as seriously harming the Knesset and the State of Israel and hope that this will enter the hearts and minds of Supreme Court judges next time they rule on an appeal of the disqualification of unworthy candidates for the Knesset.”

The Supreme Court has overturned all past Central Election Committee decisions to ban Balad or individual members of the party from running for seats in the Knesset.

Edelstein does not have the authority to punish the Balad MKs, but if the Ethics Committee determines the visit was a violation, it can sanction them with suspensions of up to six months from all Knesset activity but voting – a punishment Zoabi received in the past for comments sympathizing with Hamas during Operation Protective Edge – or a new punishment that has yet to be used, docking their salaries. In addition, if the attorney-general finds their actions to be criminal, he may ask the Knesset House Committee to vote to remove their immunity, so they can be put on trial.