MKs Jamal Zahalka (L), Hanin Zoabi (R) and Basel Ghattas at a weekly Joint Arab list meeting in Jerusalem last month. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

With widespread support across the political spectrum, the Knesset ruled that the three Arab lawmakers who consoled the families of Palestinian terrorists would be banned from Parliament.

The Knesset Ethics Committee made a landmark decision on Monday evening regarding the controversial meetings by three Arab parliamentarians with families of Palestinian terrorists.

Multiple complaints had been filed against the three Members of Knesset (MK) in question—Jamal Zahalka, Hanin Zoabi and Basel Ghattas of the Joint List party. The committee ruled that Zoabi and Ghattas would be banned from Knesset sessions and committees for four months, while Zahalka would be banned for two months. The MKs will not be permitted to participate in votes in the Knesset and its committees.

The Joint List issued a statement following the decision, saying that they “completely reject the decision. We condemn the incitement campaign led by [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu, which has resulted in this poor, unethical and anti-democratic decision. We still demand the immediate release of the [terrorists’] bodies held by the police even after this decision.”

The statement went on to say that the MKs have “paid a political price for a moral and humanitarian goal. This vengeful punishment will not deter us. We will continue fighting against policies of racism and fascism and in favor of real democracy and equality, which Netanyahu is desperately trying to destroy.”

The condolence visit by the three MKs last Tuesday to the families of the terrorists caused a political outcry in Israel, which prompted Netanyahu to file the complaint with the Ethics Committee. The Israeli leader had support across the political spectrum in demanding that Arab Knesset members who console the families of Palestinian terrorists have no place in Israel’s parliament.

Zahalka failed to show up to the committee meetings and was escorted out of a Knesset session earlier on Monday for repeatedly screaming at Netanyahu, yelling, “Liar! Fascist! He lies over and over again!” This was after a speech given by Netanyahu in which he said that he was “trying to imagine what would happen in the British parliament if MPs visited the family of Jihadi John.”

Joint List Chairman Ayman Odeh previously attempted to justify the visits on humanitarian grounds. “The meeting last week was humanitarian and moral. The bodies [of the terrorists] must be released and buried immediately. We must also denounce the Israeli government, which is holding the bodies in freezers,” Odeh said at a Joint List meeting.

Israel has temporarily held the bodies of terrorists in the past out of concern that funeral processions could lead to anti-Israel riots and violent protests. The bodies of the terrorists in question are set to be released shortly following a deal struck on Monday evening.

By: TPS and United with Israel