State refuses to defend disqualification of MK Zoabi

A-G says he will not defend the Central Elections Committee decision to bar Zoabi from running in upcoming Knesset elections.

Balad MK Haneen Zoabi 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Balad MK Haneen Zoabi 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
The state will not defend a ban preventing Balad MK Haneen Zoabi from running for Knesset, the State Attorney’s Office declared on Wednesday “It is the opinion of the attorney- general that there is no room for the esteemed High Court of Justice to authorize the Central Elections Committee decision to bar MK Zoabi from running in the 19th Knesset,” the attorney-general stated.
The court is set to hear the petition about Zoabi on Thursday with a panel of nine justices, presided over by Supreme Court President Asher D. Grunis, and it is likely it will strike down the ban and allow her to run.
Zoabi has been one of the most controversial figures in Israeli politics, following her participation aboard the Mavi Marmara ship during the 2010 flotilla to Gaza. IDF officers who boarded the ship clashed with Turkish activists and killed nine of them during the confrontation.
The state, represented by Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein, has consistently opposed the ban on Zoabi, as well as bans on any political parties.
Last week, Weinstein recommended the Central Elections Committee not disqualify Zoabi 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.
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The attorney-general said he deemed the evidence gathered against Zoabi to be “disturbing and substantial” and “close to the level of being prohibited,” but ultimately did not reach the “critical mass” necessary for disqualifying her.
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.
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 the banning of Rabbi Meir Kahane’s Kach party in 1988.
Ilene Prusher contributed to this report.