High Court overturns Zoabi Knesset election ban

Court unanimously rules to overturn Central Elections Committee's decision to ban Balad MK from standing in upcoming elections.

Zoabi arrives at court 370 (photo credit: Reuters/Ammar Awad)
Zoabi arrives at court 370
(photo credit: Reuters/Ammar Awad)
MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad) will be allowed to run for the 19th Knesset, despite a Central Elections Committee ban, the High Court of Justice ruled on Sunday.
The court did not explain its ruling, as it was made with a tight deadline, and did not say when it plans to publicize its reasoning.
The committee voted to ban Zoabi from running in the January 22 election earlier this month, on grounds of supporting terrorism and rejecting Israel as a Jewish and democratic state in opposition to Article 7A of the Basic Law: The Knesset, based mostly on her participation in the 2010 Gaza flotilla on the Mavi Marmara.
“The court’s decision proves that the attempts to disqualify me were political and personal persecution against me, my party and the entire Arab public,” Zoabi stated. “The Central Elections Committee is a political body that misuses its authority and allows politicians to ban their rivals for ideological reasons.”
Zoabi added that she will not stop fighting attempts to delegitimize her and her party.
The Balad MK’s attorney, Hassan Jabarin, said the Central Elections Committee attempted to portray her as a terrorist, even though she was never convicted of a crime.
According to Jabarin, Zoabi’s participation in the Gaza flotilla is a “legitimate political step by a protesting MK.”
MK Ophir Akunis (Likud), who submitted the request to disqualify Zoabi to the Central Election Committee, said that he respects the court’s decision, but thinks it is unfortunate.
“I will continue to act via the parliamentary tools I have in order to fortify Israeli democracy and defend it from those trying to destroy it from within,” Akunis stated.
MK Danny Danon (Likud) said he will not stop working to put Zoabi behind bars, and plans to propose legislation that would ban the Balad MK from the Knesset.
“Today the court decided to back the Marmara terrorist instead of naval commando fighters [who boarded the ship],” he stated. “The law did not do its job today. It will be changed and Zoabi can be sure that her days in the Knesset are numbered.”
Danon started an Internet petition to bar Zoabi from running shortly after the election was declared, and gathered 11,000 signatures.
Hadash MK Dov Henin criticized Likud MKs’ attempts to disqualify Zoabi, saying he finds it “worrying that the ruling party does not mind harming democracy in order to gain a few more right-wing voters.”