Supreme Court president: Disqualifying election candidates is too extreme

Asher Grunis explains HCJ rejection of vote to disqualify MK Hanin Zoabi for running in this year's election.

Supreme Court President Asher Grunis 390 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)
Supreme Court President Asher Grunis 390 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)
The High Court will not "cross the line" and disqualify election candidates, Supreme Court President Asher Grunis wrote Wednesday in a delayed explanation of why the court rejected the Central Election Committee's vote to disqualify MK Hanin Zoabi (Balad) from running in this year's election.
"Preventing a candidate from participating in an election to the Knesset or preventing a list of candidates from taking part in the election are extreme measures," according to Grunis and the eight other judges presiding in the trial.
The Central Election Committee voted not to allow Zoabi to run in December and the High Court overturned the decision soon after, but did not release an explanation because the ruling was made shortly before the January election.
Although Grunis wrote that the evidence with which he was presented paints a complex picture about claims that she supports armed conflict by Hamas. Zoabi wrote in a deposition that the press clippings presented by those who opposed her candidacy included inaccurate quotes, and that she does not support armed conflict.
"There is no doubt that MK Zoabi, like the entire Balad party, sees herself as part of the Palestinian nation. MK Zoabi did not deny that her activities aim to change the situation of the Palestinian people in Gaza and in general. At the same time, there is a doubt if this activity includes support for armed conflict by a terrorist organization, in this case Hamas," Grunis wrote.
Still, the Supreme Court President's explanation said that "the fact that someone is a candidate does not mean he or she can do whatever he or she wants. The possibility of removing an MK's immunity stands in certain cases."
Grunis warned that Zoabi's participation in the 2011 Gaza flotilla "comes especially close to the forbidden area of activity."
Although Zoabi's presence on the Mavi Marmara flotilla ship "should not be taken lightly," it's not enough to prove that she crossed a line and deserves to be banned from an election, Grunis added.
"Disqualifying parties from running in elections hurts modern democracy in two forms: Procedural democracy and substantive democracy. In representative democracy, parties are the conduit through which the will of the people is led. Therefore, harming the election system by banning a list shrinks the ideological spectrum that citizens can choose from, and takes groups out of the political game who won't have the ability to promote their platform in the legislature," Grunis wrote.