Arab MK, Yigal Amir party disqualified

MK Heba Yazbak was disqualified because of statements supporting terrorism and terrorists, while Labor faction chairman Itzik Shmuli the only purpose of the Free Trial party was to free Yigal Amir.

MK Heba Yazbak of UAL-Balad (photo credit: Courtesy)
MK Heba Yazbak of UAL-Balad
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Central Elections Committee voted on Wednesday to prohibit both MK Heba Yazbak of the Joint List’s Balad Party and the Free Trial party of Larissa Trembovler Amir, the wife of Yitzhak Rabin’s assassin, Yigal Amir, from running in the March 2 election.
The disqualification of Yazbak for her statements supporting terrorism and terrorists passed by a vote of 28 to 7, with the support of representatives from the Likud, Yisrael Beytenu, Shas, United Torah Judaism, Blue and White and Labor. Only Joint List and Meretz representatives opposed her disqualification.
There was a 13 to 0 unanimous vote to disqualify the Free Trial Party. The Supreme Court will convene next week and is likely to overturn both disqualifications.
Yisrael Beytenu faction chairman Oded Forer, who requested the disqualification of Yazbak along with Likud MK Ofir Katz, told the committee that Yazbak should not be permitted to run, because she shared posts time after time that support terrorism. Katz said she took back her statements, but so did former MK Azmi Bishara, who made similar statements in order to get elected, but who ended up getting convicted of aiding Hezbollah.
“I am here representing thousands of terror victims,” Otzma Yehudit Party head Itamar Ben-Gvir told the committee. “There are dozens of examples of Yazbak expressing support for the worst terrorists, including Samir Kuntar, Dalal Mugrabi and Karim Yunes. She cannot and must not be in the Knesset. No other country would let her be in parliament.”
Yazbak responded to the committee that she never called for violence, did not intend to praise the use of violence, and would word her past statements differently today. She said she opposes all violence and painted herself as a victim of racism.
“The goal of the attempts to disqualify me is not to maintain democracy but to prevent the rise of the Joint List as a political force,” Yazbak said. “It is clear to me that the requests to disqualify me are for racist and populist reasons. The monster the Right has made out of me does not exist. The attempt to silence our agenda will not work.”
Yazbak said after the vote that she was not surprised and that the committee’s decision was political, not legal.
Meretz representative Uri Zaki said he opposed disqualifying Yazbak, because she took back her past statements and must be protected as a minority. But he said her past statements cannot be justified.
Labor faction chairman Itzik Shmuli told the committee that the only purpose of the Free Trial Party was to bring about the release of Yigal Amir from prison. He said Trembovler Amir tricked the party registrar, and her husband is running the party from prison.
“Allowing this party to run would stain the Knesset,” Shmuli said. “He is a terrorist. He does not accept democracy, which he proved by firing three bullets in the back of the prime minister.”
But a representative of Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit told the committee that there was not enough evidence to disqualify the party.
Requests to disqualify the entire Joint List, Yisrael Beytenu and Labor-Gesher-Meretz candidates Amir Peretz and Tamar Zandberg failed later Wednesday. But final decisions will be made next week by the Supreme Court, which disqualified Otzma Yehudit candidates Baruch Marzel and Bentzi Gopstein ahead of the September election and Michael Ben-Ari ahead of the race in April.
Yonah Jeremy Bob contributed to this report.