Israel: secular state or no peace, says MP Haneen Zoabi

Arab-Israeli MP says she is an exile in her own home

23 April, 18:15

    Israeli MP Haneen Zoabi Israeli MP Haneen Zoabi

    (by Michele Esposito).

    (ANSAmed) - ROME - ''We need a secular state, a citizens' state'' free from discrimination against Palestinians and from the ''racist'' tendencies of the current administration, said Haneen Zoabi, Israel's first Arab MP, who was was first elected in 2009 and reconfirmed in the the January elections that brought to power an ''even more dangerous'' government than the last. In Italy recently, Zoabi is a secular, single, feminist woman who is not afraid to state that ''there is no support of the Palestinian people without recognizing our right to resist''. Born in Nazareth, the first Arab-Israel citizen to obtain a degree in communications, Zoabi is one of three MPs from the Balad party, which fights for the full recognition of Palestinian rights. Such recognition appears remote today, she said. ''Israel expropriated 85% of our territories. I am a member of the Knesset but I do not feel at home'', the MP told Ansamed on the sidelines of a conference titled ''For a just Middle Eastern peace'', organized in Cerveteri. ''Israel does not consider us as its citizens and it is the sole country in the Western world that decides who you may or may not marry'', Zoabi went on, adding that she ''cannot enter into a civil union'' with a Palestinian within Israel. The political life of this energetic MP has not been easy. Beloved by her Arab-Palestinian minority (20% of the Israeli population), Zoabi is up against the main Israeli parties since she boarded the Mavi Marmara ship in 2010 as part of the Freedom Flotilla, during which an Israeli commando raid killed nine Turkish activists. ''They stripped me of parliamentary immunity and of my diplomatic passport'', then ''tried to pass a law to prevent me from running in the elections'', said Zoabi, whose appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court was successful. ''I am not in the Knesset to lose my dignity. Israel is a spoiled child and if the world continues treating it this way, the Palestinians will go on paying'', she explained, accusing the current government of ''not having a political agenda on the occupation'' of the Territories. The entire Israel social and political elite ''is devoid of feeling that the problem of the occupation even exists''. The solution, she said, is the formation of a secular, egalitarian state, whether or not the two-state solution is enacted. ''Today I feel like an exile in my own homeland. Israel's project is a criminal one'' with a ''repressive military policy towards us, limiting our rightsm expropriating our land'', is Zoabi's cry. ''If the occupation exists, automatically there are occupiers and occupied, who fight among themselves. And there will never be peace''.


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