Elections C’tee bars Zoabi from Knesset for supporting terrorism

The Central Election Committee banned Balad party head, MK Hanin Zoabi from the Knesset elections on  grounds of supporting terror & rejecting Israel as a Jewish state.

The committee is set to discuss disqualifying Strong Israel, haredim from running for Knesset later in the week.

The Central Election Committee banned Balad MK Hanin Zoabi from running for the 19th Knesset on Wednesday, on grounds of supporting terror and rejecting Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.

Zoabi’s disqualification will automatically be brought to an appeal before the High Court of Justice. The only individual disqualification to be upheld by the court was that of Rabbi Meir Kahane in 1988.

Balad MK Haneen Zoabi - Photo: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post

Balad MK Haneen Zoabi – Photo: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post

The committee also voted against barring Balad and UAL-Ta’al from running in the January 22 election.

On Thursday, the Central Election Committee will vote on petitions against Strong Israel, on grounds of racism, and UTJ and Shas, on grounds of discrimination against women.

Over the course of six hours, MKs David Rotem (Yisrael Beytenu), Ofir Akunis (Likud), Danny Danon (Likud), Michael Ben-Ari (Strong Israel) and Arieh Eldad (Strong Israel) as well as several other petitioners, presented their reasons to remove Zoabi and the two parties from the running.

The petitioners cited Article 7A of the Basic Law: The Knesset, which says that a party list or an individual candidate cannot reject Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, incite to violence or support armed combat by an enemy state or terror organization against the State of Israel.

Zoabi and Balad boycotted the meeting, but were represented by Hassan Jabarin, an attorney from Adallah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority rights, as was UAL-Ta’al.

Rotem referred to Zoabi’s participation in the 2010 Gaza flotilla, aboard the Mavi Marmara ship, saying “if you don’t think that’s supporting terror, you don’t know what terror is.”

“Democracy has to save itself. We cannot tolerate the demagoguery about freedom of expression when people are inciting to violence,” he said.

Akunis, who petitioned specifically against Zoabi, also described the Marmara incident.

“She can’t deny these things; they were filmed,” he said. “The law is clear, and Israel is a country with rule of law.”

Eldad responded to Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein’s legal advice to the committee, that there is not a “critical mass” of evidence against Zoabi, Balad or UAL-Ta’al.

“What’s a critical mass?” he asked. “One kiss with [deceased Libyan president Muammar] Qadafi? One meeting with the Butcher of Damascus [Syrian President Bashar] Assad? One meeting with Hamas?”

“I’m a doctor, and I believe in preventative medicine,” Eldad explained. “We don’t have to wait for someone to explicitly say the words ‘I support armed conflict against Israel.’ We don’t have to wait for someone to caught committing espionage or treason to disqualify them.”

According to Eldad, MK Ibrahim Sarsour (UAL-Ta’al) called for jihad (holy war in Arabic) to liberate Jerusalem.

“Some say jihad is a spiritual wall, but our cemeteries are full of victims of jihad,” he stated.

Right-wing activist and Strong Israel candidate Itamar Ben-Gvir compared MK Ahmed Tibi (UAL-Ta’al), a doctor, to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

“Dr. Tibi makes jokes, he runs from studio to studio and is the star of the Knesset,” Ben-Gvir said. “But there’s also Mr. Hyde, who stands in Ramallah and makes dark declarations supporting terror and inciting to violence.”

Strong Israel’s Michael Ben-Ari quoted an interview Zoabi gave several years ago, in which she said she hopes Iran will develop nuclear weapons “because Israel needs to be afraid.”

According to Jabarin, none of the proof submitted to disqualify the parties and Zoabi are relevant.

“The extreme right just wants to ban Arabs,” he stated.

In addition, Jabarin accused the petitioners and others of “unfairly demonizing” Zoabi, adding that they should examine her parliamentary activity, which dealt mostly with women’s issues and welfare.

Jabarin also pointed out that the Tirkel Committee, which investigated the Gaza flotilla incident, did not mention Zoabi, nor was she convicted of any crimes.

“People don’t want me in the Knesset because I’m different, but that’s not how democracy works,” Tibi said. “Democracy protects the rights of the minority.”

Tibi caused an uproar in the committee, leading chairman Judge Elyakim Rubinstein to call a five-minute break, after calling Ben-Gvir a “seventh-rate politician.” The seventh letter of the Hebrew alphabet, which can be used to signify the number, is also an obscenity in slang.

At the end of the meeting, the petition against UAL-Ta’al was rejected, with six in favor, seven abstaining and 17 opposed. Balad was permitted to stay in the race, with 13 for disqualification, one abstention and 16 against.

Zoabi’s disqualification passed with 19 in favor, nine opposed and one abstention. Representatives of Likud, Yisrael Beytenu, Habayit Hayehudi, National Union, Strong Israel, Shas, United Torah Judaism and Kadima voted to ban her from the race, while those from Labor, The Tzipi Livni Party, Meretz, UAL-Ta’al, Hadash and Balad opposed. Rubenstein abstained from all three votes.


View original Jerusalem Post publication at: http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?id=296553