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February 19, 2015 10:54 am

Israeli Supreme Court Reverses Election Ban on Arab Knesset Member Zoabi

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The Israeli Supreme Court on Tuesday reversed a decision to disqualify Hanin Zoabi from next month's Knesset election. Photo: Wikimedia Commons. – The Israeli Supreme Court on Tuesday reversed the Central Elections Committee’s decision to disqualify MK Hanin Zoabi (Joint Arab List) and far-right activist Baruch Marzel (Yahad Haam Itanu) from next month’s Knesset election.

In an 8-1 decision, the court said Zoabi and Marzel would be eligible to run in the election despite their alleged incitement and racism. The court said that due to the close proximity of the March 17 election, the rationale for its decision would be made public at a later date. In 2012, the Supreme Court issued a similar ruling after the Central Elections Committee disqualified Zoabi.

Under Israeli law, the Central Elections Committee has the right to ban Knesset candidates if they reject Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, or if they incite racism and armed conflict against Israel. Last summer, Zoabi said the Hamas perpetuators who kidnapped and murdered three Jewish teens were “not terrorists,” in addition to comparing Israeli soldiers to Islamic State terrorists during Operation Protective Edge. Those who sought to disqualify Zoabi noted her outspoken support for an armed struggle against Israel. Representatives of the Coalition against Racism in Israel, meanwhile, argued that Marzel was a known sympathizer of the outlawed radical right-wing Kach Party and that he had never publicly denounced Kach’s platform.

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Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman MK Yariv Levin (Likud) said regarding the reinstatement of Zoabi, “The Supreme Court justices have once again cleared a path for terrorism. … It is time to overhaul the judicial nomination process in order to ensure that those on the bench are committed to the state of Israel and to the Zionist idea.”

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, head of Yisrael Beiteinu party, said that “allowing Hanin Zoabi to serve another term in the Israeli Knesset is a black stain on Israel’s democracy, which has failed to show it can defend itself in times of need.”

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