Despite a decision by State Attorney Avichai Mandelblit that United Arab List MK Hiba Yazbak could run for the Knesset, the State Election Commission – the ultimate authority on such matters – voted Wednesday to ban her from the United Arab List. The ban was approved in a stormy committee session by a vote of 27 MKs approving throwing her off the list, with only seven voting to keep her on.
The petition to ban Yazbak was filed by MK Ofir Katz of the Likud. According to the petition, Yazbak “consistently supports terrorists and spies who have committed terrible acts against Israel and its residents. There is no place in the Knesset for someone who supports terrorists who commit horrible acts against Israelis, who shoot at innocent people. We have a moral obligation to remove Yazbak from the list and not to allow people like this to represent Israel.”
Yazbak has repeated her support for terrorism several times, according to complaints against her; for example, in a Channel 13 interview, she said that “international law allows nations under occupation to act to free themselves.” When asked if that included terror attacks against soldiers, she refused to answer, instead saying that “what is illegitimate is the continuation of the occupation.”
Yazbak’s next move is to appeal to the High Court if she still wishes to run. Speaking after the decision, Yazbak said that she “reiterates that I never called for violence and did not intend to praise its use. I also explained that I would rephrase my comments if I had a chance to do so. There is clearly no reason to ban me from running and I hope the High Court will agree with me. With that, we can ignore the context of today’s session, in the wake of the annexation deal announced Tuesday – the desire of the right to cover up the true crime, the continued occupation and degradation of the Palestinian people.”
Commenting on the decision, Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman said that the commission had done the right thing. “I hope the High Court will accept this decision and not allow this supporter of terrorism to run for the Knesset. She belongs in the Parliament that meets in Ramallah,” he said.