Israeli parliament cuts lawmaker's privileges over Freedom Flotilla action
The Israeli parliament deprived a female lawmaker from the Israeli Arab party Balad of three key parliamentary privileges for participating in the Gaza-bound Freedom Flotilla, local television said.
Hanin Zoabi, 41, has been stripped of her diplomatic passport, the right to be compensated for court fees by the state, and the freedom to exit the country.
Thirty-four MPs supported the decision, while 16 were voted against it. The other 70 lawmakers did not vote, RİA Novosti reported.
Zoabi, who frequently defines herself as Palestinian in her public speeches, has been accused of sympathy towards Israel's "enemies," namely Iran, and of attempting to "annihilate" Israel.
Zoabi called the decision "racist" and accused the parliament of violating not only her own rights, bit the rights of the entire Arab minority in Israel.
"No wonder the state that deprives a million of its Arab citizens of their base rights, annuls the right of a lawmaker who fairly represents the interests of her electorate. The racist law that limits our parliamentary and public activities is a dangerous precedent for the Arab public, a hostile signal," she said.
At least nine people were killed when Israeli commandos stormed the six-ship convoy carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza on May 31. The raid, which took place in neutral waters off the Gaza coast, was widely condemned by the international community.
Israel had warned that it would not allow the ships to approach Gaza, which has been under Israeli blockade since radical Islamic group Hamas seized power in the enclave in July 2007.
Another attempt by Arab supporters to break the Israeli blockade failed on Tuesday, when the Israeli Navy blocked the route of a vessel carrying humanitarian aid from Libya to Gaza.
The 92-metre Moldova-flagged Al-Amal ("Hope" in Arabic) cargo ship left the Greek port of Lavrio on Saturday to sail for Gaza, despite Israeli warnings that it should not approach Palestinian territory.
The ship was reportedly turned round and is sailing to the Egyptian port of El Arish.