High Court Explains Why it Let Zoabi Run


Israel’s High Court explained on Wednesday the reason for its decision to overrule the Central Election Committee’s vote to disqualify MK Hanin Zoabi (Balad) from running for Knesset back in January.

Supreme Court President Asher Grunis wrote on behalf of an nine-judge panel that “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,” which the case did not warrant.

The High Court delayed its explanation because the ruling was made shortly before the January election.

Grunis addressed the pivotal legal point, whether Zoabi’s outspoken support for the Palestinian cause, including participation in the 2011 Gaza flotilla’s Mavi Marmara, crossed the line of advocating armed violence against the state. Zoabi claims she does not, and the judges found the evidence ambiguous.

“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.”

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.