Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit said on Monday that MK Heba Yazbak of the Arab Joint List party should be allowed to run for the Knesset in March, despite making a statement that seemed to condone violence against Israeli soldiers.
Yazbak told Channel 13 recently that “international law permits people under occupation to take action to liberate themselves,” referring to Palestinian protest demonstrations.
When the interviewer asked if she considered attacks on soldiers to be legitimate resistance she sidestepped, saying, “What isn’t legitimate is the continued occupation.”
Her remarks caused a furor among Jewish MKs, who have demanded she be disqualified from running for office. Among them were members of Blue and White and the left-wing Labor-Gesher-Meretz.
Mandelblit subsequently requested she clarify her position. In her reply to the attorney general on Monday, she would not retract the statement, but insisted it did not imply support for violence.
“I didn’t say that I support, or call for, harming soldiers or any other person,” she said,
In a letter to the Central Elections Committee, Mandelblit characterized “some of the statements [as] very serious and repugnant.” But, he said, “there is not a critical mass of unequivocal and convincing evidence that justifies the disqualification of [Yazbak] from running in elections for the 23rd Knesset.”
The right-wing Yamina alliance called the move “a tailwind for terror support.
“Freedom of speech does not justify the advancement of a terror supporter,” the party said in a statement. “Yazbak is better suited to represent Hamas than the citizens of Israel. We will work to prevent her entrance into the Knesset.”
The CEC is scheduled to convene on the matter Wednesday. Its decision will, in turn, be subject to review by the High Court, which has overturned previous committee decisions on eligibility cases of this kind.