Israel suspends MP for opposing Gaza blockade

The Israeli parliament has temporarily suspended an Israeli-Arab politician who participated in the Gaza-bound flotilla last year that was intercepted by Israel in a bungled assault that left nine pro-Palestinian activists dead.

Civil rights groups condemned the controversial sanction against Haneen Zoabi, an MP with the Balad Party. Her suspension came as a lone French yacht tried to run Israel's blockade of Gaza as the sole representative of a much larger convoy that had hoped to sail weeks ago but has been grounded by the authorities in Greece.

The French-flagged Dignite - Al Karama, which sailed from Greece after naming Egypt as its destination, expects to reach Gaza's territorial waters around midday today in an attempt to refocus international attention on Israel's four-year blockade of the tiny Palestinian enclave. Activists on board the vessel, which is carrying 17 passengers, among them a French politician, said they were bringing a message of "peace and love and hope".

The effort is likely to be more symbolic than effective as Israeli troops are primed to prevent any ship from entering the sea around Gaza. Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's hawkish Prime Minister, has repeatedly warned that the Jewish State will use force to repel any attempt to run the blockade.

Last year, Israeli commandoes mounted a deadly raid on the Mavi Marmara, the lead ship of a Gaza-bound aid convoy, that left nine Turkish activists dead, provoking international outrage and badly damaging Israel's relations with Turkey, its erstwhile ally.

Ms Zoabi, a vociferous critic of Israeli policies towards the Palestinians, was a passenger on the Mavi Marmara, attracting fury in Israel. She was branded a traitor by colleagues and stripped of some parliamentary privileges. But the latest move to sanction her demonstrates the extent to which the flotilla affair still rankles in Israel. The Knesset's ethics committee voted to bar Ms Zoabi from parliamentary debates until the current session ends next month, declaring that her actions had "harmed national security and were inconsistent with the legitimate conduct of a lawmaker".

The committee accused her of co-operating with IHH, the Turkish charity that was the driving force of the flotilla, with links to Hamas, the militant Islamist group in charge of Gaza.

Israel regards Hamas as a terrorist group, and imposed its blockade in part to weaken it and prevent arms smuggling, but critics say the policy, which has devastated Gaza's economy and effectively imprisoned its 1.6 million inhabitants, has failed.

Ms Zoabi slammed the committee's decision, saying she had taken part in the flotilla "as part of a struggle that is humanitarian, moral and politically just in defence of a besieged people".

"The decision to keep me away from discussions in the Knesset is a political decision and a reflection of the right-wing majority," she told Agence France Presse.

News
newsNew images splice vintage WWII photos with modern-day setting
Arts and Entertainment
The star dances on a balcony in the video
music
News
Official estimates of the level of sham marriages range between 4,000 and 10,000 every year
science
News
Damon Gameua took on a low-fat, high-sugar health food diet for 60 days
peopleAustralian director Damon Gameua was given warning by his GP
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Sport
sportComment: Win or lose Hamilton represents the best of Britain
Life and Style
tech
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsene Wenger reacts during Arsenal's 2-1 defeat to Swansea
footballMan United and Arsenal meet on Saturday with both clubs this time languishing outside the top four
News
i100BBC political editor Nick Robinson had a lot of explaining to do
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Sales Account Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Account Manager...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Sales Account Manager

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Trainee Sales Account Manager...

Day In a Page

US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

Immigration: Obama's final frontier

The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

You know that headache you’ve got?

Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

Paul Scholes column

England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

Frank Warren column

Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines