Balad MK Haneen Zoabi 370.
(photo credit: ILENE PRUSHER)
Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein recommended on Monday to the Election
Committee not to disqualify MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad) or the United Arab
List-Ta’al, Balad and Strong Israel parties, and to allow them all to run in the
upcoming January 22 Knesset election.
The attorney-general said that the
evidence gathered against Zoabi that he deemed as “disturbing and substantial”
and “close to the level of being prohibited” ultimately did not reach a
“critical mass” for disqualifying her.
Weinstein also rejected requests
from the Election Committee to disqualify United Arab List-Ta’al, Balad and
Article 7A of the Basic Law: The Knesset 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.
The attorney-general stated
that some evidence existed against UAL-Ta’al indicating a “disturbing closeness
to the ideas” of rejecting the Jewishness of the State of Israel and some
indications of support for the armed struggle of a terrorist
However, the evidence presented was weak and could not
justify disqualifying the two parties according to the relevant Supreme Court
precedents on the issue.
Weinstein found the evidence against Balad “more
troubling,” but still lacking compared to the evidence brought against the same
party in 2003 when it was still ultimately allowed to participate in
Addressing the request to disqualify Arieh Eldad and Michael
Ben-Ari’s new Strong Israel party for rejecting the “democratic” character of
the State of Israel, Weinstein said the evidence presented is not convincing and
unequivocal enough. Regarding the idea of disqualifying the party on the basis
of characterizing its campaign as racism, he said the evidence was “more
substantive and disturbing,” but still did not meet a “critical mass” of
evidence to disqualify the party.
Final decisions as to which parties or
individuals are disqualified will be released on December 23, one month before
the election. The High Court can overturn decisions until January
Although the committee has disqualified parties in recent years,
including Balad and UAL-Ta’al in 2009, the High Court of Justice has overturned
all such decisions, except for Rabbi Meir Kahane’s Kach party in
Zoabi has been one of the most controversial people in Israeli
politics, following her participation onboard the Mavi Marmara ship sailing as
part of a 2010 flotilla trying to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza. Naval
soldiers trying to commandeer the ship clashes with Turkish activists on board,
and killed nine of them in the ensuing confrontations.
several Likud parliamentarians, in particular the Likud’s Danny Danon and Ophir
Akunis, have demanded that she be stripped of her Knesset privileges and
ultimately be banned from running.
Zoabi defends her participation on the
ship, and says the attempts to ban her and her party are an example of growing
fascism in the country.
She said in a recent interview that Zionism is
Several right-wing politicians said that they would
continue their campaign to have Zoabi disqualified.
In response to
Weinstein’s recommendation, Akunis said, “With respect to the stance of the
attorney-general, we will continue our efforts to disqualify Zoabi. I will
present in the elections commission and also to the high court all the facts and
evidence that we have collected, so that it will be possible that an appropriate
decision will be taken.”
“For Ms. Zoabi, who violated the Basic Law of
the Knesset in a clear way, there is no room in our parliament,” he
Eldad and Ben-Ari said in a joint statement that as a Zionist
party “fighting the Arab enemy” they would also continue to pursue Zoabi’s
“Freedom of expression does not equal freedom of
incitement, freedom to support terror groups and to cooperate with them. Also in
a state that believes in the freedom of expression it is forbidden to enable
supporting terror within the walls of its own house of
representatives.”Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.