Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit demanded on Sunday that Joint List MK Heba Yazbak (Balad) explain her statements that seem to imply her support for violent actions against IDF soldiers.Balad, the Joint List's anti-Zionist party, supports turning Israel from a Jewish state to a 'state of all its citizens,' and is its only party that did not recommend former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz for prime minister after the September election.
Electoral Committee head Judge Neal Hendel has received several petitions requesting him to ban Yazbak from running in the general election, including petitions claiming that she supports violent struggle against the State of Israel, including attacks on IDF soldiers.
Yazbak, 34, is currently the youngest serving MK.
The head of the High Court of Justice Petitions Department in the State Attorney's Office, Attorney Anar Helman, sent a letter to Yazbak's representatives Sunday evening, demanding that she explain an answer she gave at a Channel 13 interview that could be interpreted as legitimizing terrorist activity.
During the interview, Yazbak was asked whether "reasonable, legitimate resistance to the occupation [of the territories claimed by the Palestinians, occupied by Israel in 1967] includes harming soldiers or the Chief of General Staff?"
The MK answered that "international law itself allows nations living under occupation act for their liberation." Helman said that the A-G requested MK Yazbak's explanation in order to establish a final opinion regarding banning her from running.
According to the Basic Law on the Knesset passed in 1958 and acting as part of Israel's effective constitution, "a person shall not be a candidate for election to the Knesset if the objects or actions [...] of the person, expressly or by implication, include [...] an armed struggle, by a hostile state or a terrorist organization, against the State of Israel."
Last week, former IDF deputy chief of staff Democratic Union MK Yair Golan wrote on his Twitter page that he does not "feel comfortable reading Heba Yazbak's words on Facebook, but banning a law-abiding citizen from running for the Knesset [equates to] awarding those that defame Israeli democracy."
Golan added that "Let's focus on banning the mob of violent criminals that clash with police officers and soldiers their entire life," referring to West Bank settlers. "In democacy people are banned for actions, not for sharing controversial things on Facebook."
In 2015, Yazbak shared a Facebook post calling Hezbollah commander and former Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist Samir alQuntar a 'martyr' following his assassination.
Quntar was imprisoned at the age of 16 after participating in the killing of an Israeli police officer and the attempted kidnapping of an Israeli family in Nahariya that resulted in the death of four Israelis including two children, in a terrorist attack in Nahariya perpetrated by the Palestine Liberation Front (PLF). He was released in the 2008 Israel-Hezbollah prisoner exchange.
Likud MK Ofir Katz raised Monday afternoon the motion to ban Yazbak, saying, "I am on my way to submit the request to ban MK Heba Yazbak from running to the 23 Knesset," adding that "MK Yazbak has no place in Israel's Knesset. She is an MK who constantly hails disgraceful murderers, terrorists and spies."
The motion to ban Yazbak is expected to be supported by both Prime Minister Banjamin Netanyahu's Likud and his rival Gantz's Blue and White.
"In the last days, Blue and White has taken a turn to the extreme right, and its clear manifestation is their announcement that they would support banning my friend Heba Yazbak from running in the elections," said Joint List's Ofer Cassif of the communist party Hadash.
"Let's make it clear: everyone who supports Yazbak's ban participates in the effort to delegitimize the Joint List and its great base," Cassif added. "Do those who support the ban really believe we could recommend any of them for Prime Minister to the President, or support a government led by them?"
Yazbak responded to Mandelblit's request, denying the allegations claiming she supports terrorist activity. "My activity according to the law, and violence is not my way. I have never and will never call for using violence."Yazbak added that "in the interview with Raviv Drucker and Tamar Ish-Shalom I explained once again that I oppose the precision-strike policy, and that it does not mean I support Quntar's actions," saying "I oppose harming innocent people, all the more so children."
On Friday, Yazbak wrote in an op-ed published by Haaretz that "neither of the posts was meant to support [the terrorists'] actions," adding that she "opposes harming people regardless of who they are, and the extremists' attempts to imply I agree with harming children or exploding buses is absurd and nauseating."
Yazbak continued saying she "shared the post about Quntar following his assassination in December 2015," adding that "the post, that was published on my personal account in Arabic was meant to criticize the assassination policy that contradicts international law."
Yazbak added that "I have no doubt that among the Arabic-speakers who read the post there was not a single person who understood it as legitimizing the terrorist attack that Quntar committed in Israel. I repeated these words multiple times both in Hebrew-language and Arabic-language media."