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A-G recommends against banning Zoabi run
By YONAH JEREMY BOB, ILENE PRUSHER
17/12/2012
Weinstein says there isn't enough evidence to warrant disqualifying Zoabi, UAL-Ta'al, Balad, Strong Israel from Knesset run.
 
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 Strong Israel.

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 organization.

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 elections.

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 1.

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 1988.

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.

Since then, 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 “built-in racism.”

Several right-wing politicians said that they would continue their campaign to have Zoabi disqualified.

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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 added.

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 disqualification.

“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.
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