High Court Expected to Overturn Election Committee Ban on Zoabi

YERUSHALAYIM - It appears likely that Israel’s High Court will overrule a Central Elections Committee ban against Balad MK Haneen Zoabi from running in the elections after Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein refused on Wednesday to argue the case against her, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Zoabi has long been a controversial figure, especially following her participation aboard the Mavi Marmara ship in the 2010 flotilla intercepted while trying to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza. The committee voted recently to disqualify her candidacy because of her support for terrorism.

“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,” he stated.

A panel of nine justices presided over by Supreme Court President Asher D. Grunis is scheduled to hear Zoabi’s petition today.

Weinstein has consistently opposed the ban on Zoabi, as well as similar bans on any political parties in Israel.

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.

Although the committee has disqualified parties in recent years, including Balad and UAL-Ta’al in 2009, the High Court has overturned all the decisions, except for the ban on Rabbi Meir Kahane’s Kach party in 1988.

The Knesset committee voted 19-9, with one abstention, to prohibit Zoabi from running.

“My problem is that I am not a terrorist,” Zoabi said after the vote. “My problem is that I am perhaps too democratic. The problem with Balad and with the Arab MKs is that we are democratic in an atmosphere that does not believe in democracy.”

MK Ofir Akunis (Likud), who had initiated the vote to ban her, said that “MK Zoabi blatantly transgressed the Basic Law: Knesset when she took part in the terror attack aboard the Marmara, and she therefore has no place in the Knesset. Israel’s democracy must know how to defend itself from those who seek to destroy it from within.

“I hope and believe that the disqualification will be upheld by the High Court.”