Election committee to debate disqualifying Zoabi

One-third of committee members signs petition to ban Balad MK; New Land seeks to disqualify Strong Israel's Kahane students.

Balad MK Haneen Zoabi 370 (photo credit: ILENE PRUSHER)
Balad MK Haneen Zoabi 370
(photo credit: ILENE PRUSHER)
The Central Election Committee will debate disqualifying MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad) from running for the next Knesset, after the Likud representative to the committee, MK Ofir Akunis, gathered the requisite signatures.
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 United Arab List-Ta’al in 2009, the High Court of Justice has overturned all such decisions, except for Rabbi Meir Kahane’s Kach party in 1988.
Akunis submitted a request to prevent Zoabi from running to Central Election Committee chairman Judge Elyakim Rubinstein on Sunday night, along with signatures from 13 committee members, the number required to disqualify an individual.
The Likud MK expressed confidence that his proposal would be backed by a majority of the 36 committee members.
“I have no doubt the Central Election Committee will authorize my request, as will the High Court, which will surely review an appeal,” Akunis said. “The court will have trouble opposing my argument that Zoabi broke the Basic Law: The Knesset.”
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.
According to Akunis, Zoabi incited against the government and the IDF, and committed an act of terrorism by sailing on the Gaza-bound flotilla ship Mavi Marmara in 2010.
On Thursday, Yisrael Beytenu’s representative to the Central Election Committee, MK David Rotem, requested to disqualify Zoabi’s party, Balad, from running, on grounds that it breaks the law.
Any individual MK can submit a request to disqualify a party, without signatures from committee members.
“From the time it was founded until today, the purpose of [Balad], [and] the actions and declarations of its members and leaders undermine the basic consensus on which Israeli democracy stands,” Rotem wrote in his request.
“Analyzing actions and declarations, as opposed to their carefully written platform, shows that the list and candidates reject the existence of the State of Israel as both Jewish and democratic, and admire, praise and encourage acts of hostility against Israel and Israelis.”
Rotem mentioned Balad MK Said Nafa’s meeting with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal and deputy secretary-general of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine Talal Naji in Syria, as well as Zoabi’s participation in the Gaza flotilla.
National Union MKs Arieh Eldad and Michael Ben-Ari, who have broken off from their party and are running for seats in the next Knesset as the heads of the new Strong Israel list, asked to disqualify Balad and UAL-Ta’al on Sunday on similar grounds.
“These fascists, Akunises and Libermans and Rotem-types, are taking advantage of the current atmosphere, in which Likud Beytenu members are running everything,” Zoabi said in response to the petitions.
“This is the time to choose between fascism and democracy, and for whoever does not want citizens to have free elections, I am one of many targets in a chain of eliminations.”
Zoabi added that only “dark regimes” can be proud of disqualifying candidates, and should she be forbidden to run for the 19th Knesset, a red line would be crossed.
“There’s an automatic majority in the Knesset for fascism,” she stated.
However, should she or her party be disqualified, Zoabi said she does not think the High Court will allow it to stand. If it does, it will have granted legitimacy to turning Israel into a “totally fascist regime,” she said.
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On Monday, the “New Land” party, which is unlikely to get into the next Knesset, submitted requests to disqualify several candidates for the next Knesset – including Likud MKs Danny Danon and Miri Regev, and members of the Strong Israel list, including Ben-Ari and right-wing activists Baruch Marzel and Itamar Ben-Gvir – for incitement to racism.
New Land pointed out that several of the Strong Israel candidates are students of Kahane, whose Kach party was disqualified and is considered a terrorist organization by the government.
Ben-Ari, Marzel and Ben-Gvir said they will continue to fight for the Land of Israel and the people of Israel, no matter what the Left says.
“In the next Knesset, we will act as MKs with all the authority and power against enemies of Israel that know we will do every legal thing possible to get them out of the Knesset,” they said. “[UAL-Ta’al leader Ahmed] Tibi and Zoabi can start packing their bags.”
The request to disqualify Regev and Danon is based on statements the two made about illegal African migrants.
Danon said New Land is a “bizarre left-wing party that is just looking to get into the press.”