Israel High Court Overrules Elections Committee, Lets Zoabi Run

YERUSHALAYIM -

Israel’s High Court overruled the Central Elections Committee on Sunday, allowing controversial MK Haneen Zoabi to run in the January elections.

The nine-judge panel decided by unanimous vote to overturn the CEC’s disqualification of the MK, who has excited strong opposition to her candidacy for the Knesset for, among other things, participating in the 2010 Gaza flotilla.

Environment Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) criticized the High Court ruling, saying Zoabi had been “expressing solidarity with our enemies,” and was thus unfit for elective office.

MK Danny Danon, who initiated the CEC disqualification proceedings, said following the court ruling that he thinks “Zoabi belongs in jail.”

“The court decided to back the Marmara terrorist [Zoabi] instead of the Navy soldiers that were attacked with knives and clubs by the IHH terrorists,” he said.

Zoabi’s attorney, Hassan Jabareen, claimed Zoabi’s presence on the Mavi Marmara was “a legitimate political action done by an MK that is protesting the blockade [on Gaza].”

Jabareen told the justices that the law provides for disqualification of a candidate for Knesset for involvement in “armed conflict” against Israel. That, he said, means physical armed conflict and not just happening to be on board a vessel where armed conflict occurred, as in Zoabi’s case. He noted that no criminal complaint was filed against her for being on the Mavi Marmara.

The Likud party said it will seek a legislative solution, saying it is clear the existing law “has to change” and stating “unequivocally that any expression of support for terrorism amongst candidates will result in their disqualification from the Knesset.”

While Zoabi welcomed the High Court decision on Sunday, congratulating the judges over Army Radio for not “giving in to the racist right,” she said that it doesn’t mean Israel is “100 percent democratic.”

“This ruling proves again that the Central Elections Committee is a political body that abuses its authorities and allows politicians to bar their rivals for ideological reasons,” Zoabi said.