JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Arab-Israeli lawmaker called Israeli soldiers “murderers” on the floor of the Knesset, spurring talk of impeachment by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The lawmaker, Hanin Zoabi, also demanded in her remarks Wednesday afternoon that the Knesset apologize for the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident in which Israeli commandos killed nine Turkish citizens in clashes on a boat attempting to break Israel’s Gaza blockade. Netanyahu has apologized to Turkey for the incident.
Zoabi, who made the “murderers” remark as visiting soldiers were observing the parliament from the visitors’ gallery, also demanded Knesset lawmakers apologize to her. She has been censured by the Knesset, including when she participated in the Mavi Marmara flotilla and recently after she met with Palestinian terrorists’ families and stood for a moment of silence in their memories.
“I demand an apology for all the political activists on the Marmara and an apology to MK Hanin Zoabi for inciting against her for six years and hounding her. You all need to apologize, all of the members of Knesset here,” Zoabi said. “Those who murdered need to apologize, you need to apologize.”
After she was shouted down by fellow Knesset members, some of whom rushed the podium in order to remove her by force, Zoabi asked to return to the microphone to apologize. But instead, she said: “As long as there is a blockade [on Gaza], I will object to the blockade, and there’s a need to organize more flotillas.”
Knesset members responded by calling Zoabi “liar” and “filth,” and saying “You belong in Gaza.”
Zoabi’s statements came a day after Israel and Turkey signed a reconciliation deal restoring ties that had been severed following the Mavi Marmara episode.
Lawmakers Nachman Shai of the Zionist Union party and Amir Ohana of Likud filed complaints against Zoabi with the Knesset’s Ethics Committee, which is expected to meet and discuss the incident.
On Wednesday evening, Netanyahu said he contacted Attorney General Avichai Mandelblot to discuss starting the process of impeaching Zoabi from the Knesset.
“She has crossed the line in her deeds and her lies, and has no place in the Knesset,” he said in a statement that was posted on Facebook.
Netanyahu apologized for the deaths in a 2013 phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The apology was a Turkish condition for the resumption of diplomatic ties.