Israeli-Arab politician can run for election
Israel’s high court has ruled that Arab Knesset member Hanin Zoabi can take part in next month’s election, overturning the decision taken 10 days ago by the central elections committee to disqualify her.
The members of the parliamentary committee had cited Ms Zoabi’s participation in the 2010 Gaza-bound flotilla, which sought to breach Israel’s naval blockade on the Gaza Strip, as justification for the ban. She was on the MV Mavi Marmara, which was raided by Israeli commandos. Nine Turkish activists died in ensuing clashes.
Ms Zoabi, a member of the Israeli-Arab Balad party, welcomed the court ruling, saying it overturned an ideological witch hunt. “It looks like there was just no legal basis to justify my disqualification. I was subject to ridiculous political persecution and the high court made the right and proper decision. However, this decision does not erase the threats, the delegitimisation, and the physical and verbal violence that I experienced in the Knesset and outside of it in the past three years.”
Yariv Levin, a right-wing Knesset member from the ruling Likud Party, implied the judges were out of touch. “The justices will only realise that Zoabi needs to be removed from the Knesset after she blows herself up inside the building,” he warned.
Another Likud parliamentarian, Danny Danon, promised that, once the new Knesset is sworn in, he intends to promote a Bill that would ensure that the central elections committee has the right to disqualify lists whose members incite racism or negate the existence of Israel.
“Today, the court decided to back the Marmara’s terrorist instead of the navy commandos, using Zoabi’s parliamentary immunity as a shield. Zoabi belongs in prison. The ‘Zoabi law’ will be enacted and she can be sure that her days in the Knesset are numbered,” he vowed.
‘Legitimate political act’
Ms Zoabi’s lawyer, Hassan Jabareen, claimed her role in the flotilla was “a legitimate political act undertaken by a Knesset member protesting against the Gaza blockade”.
Prior to the committee’s vote, attorney general Yehuda Weinstein said Ms Zoabi’s apparent sympathy for militant groups and the Palestinian cause were not sufficient to render her ineligible to run for office, despite the flotilla.
The Balad party had threatened to boycott the January 22nd election if Ms Zoabi was not allowed to participate.