Israeli court overturns ban on Arab electoral candidate

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Published Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Israeli Supreme Court on Sunday overturned a decision by the Central Elections Committee banning Arab Member of Knesset (MK) Haneen Zoabi from standing in next month's snap general election.

"Following a hearing on 27/12/2012, it was decided unanimously to reject the Central Elections Committee's decision... to prevent representative Haneen Zoabi from standing for elections for the 19th Knesset," a summary of the court's decision said.

The summary, which was released ahead of the full decision later on Sunday, did not explain why the court was overturning the committee's decision, but confirmed that Zoabi, a member of the left-wing Balad party, would be able to stand in the January 22 vote.

The disqualification by the Central Elections committee had come "in the context of an increasingly hostile climate towards the Arab minority among the Jewish Israeli public," according to a Balad press release.

The vote was "anti-democratic and illegitimate," according to Zoabi, and Balad said that the move was a continuation of the policies enacted over the last four years by the Netanyahu-Lieberman government, including the creation of 20 discriminatory laws against Arabs living inside the Green line and their elected representatives.

Calling the decision a form of political revenge that reflected the tyranny of the majority, Zoabi said, “No one will determine for the Arab minority who represents it other than Arab citizens themselves...I was elected to represent my people and, through their support, I have a legitimacy that the committee cannot take from me.”

A firebrand critic of the government, Zoabi has regularly tangled with right-wing members of the Knesset, who sought to disqualify her from running in the next election.

They argue that she fails to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, and 'backed enemies of the state' by participating in a 2010 Gaza-bound aid flotilla that was raided by Israeli commandos in an operation that killed nine Turkish activists.

Speaking to public radio after the court ruling, Zoabi said she was happy with the result.

"I welcome the Supreme Court's decision. This is what I expected," she said. "I don't regret having participated in the Mavi Marmara (flotilla). I know what I did."

"There was no legal basis for the (committee's) decision, which was based only on political considerations," she said in a separate interview with Israeli military radio. "The Supreme Court has not succumbed to pressure from the racist right wing."

Israel's elections committee, which is composed of representatives from political parties, has in the past voted to ban Balad, as well as another Arab party and other Arab politicians, from elections.

But those decisions were overturned by the Supreme Court, which had again been expected to strike down the decision banning Zoabi's participation in the January poll.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

Comments

Haneen Zoabi. It is quite wonderful and made many of us proud to see such an respectful, articulate and temperate defense of her land and her people. facts are facts, huh?

Indeed zuabi is a champion for the Palestinian cause.that is,if she was in Ramallah .as an Israeli Arab MP,she does less than zero for her constituents.oh!i stand wrong-she did once mumble something about violence against women in the Arab society.otherwise,she is occupying a seat of another Arab MP who could and should do ten fold for his/her voters.she doesn't represent me but who remembers her and other balad and ra'am MP's who made a pilgrimage to gadafi's tent in the desert?

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