(February 10, 2020 / Israel Hayom) Israel’s top court on Sunday struck down a decision to disqualify an Arab politician from running in next month’s parliamentary election.
The High Court of Justice voted 5-4 to overturn the Central Elections Committee’s ruling to bar Heba Yazbak, a lawmaker from the Balad Party, which is part of the Joint Arab List faction, saying there was no legal basis for her disqualification.
The committee voted 28-7 last month to bar Yazbak following a series of social media posts in which she lauded terrorists, including Hezbollah and Palestine Liberation Front member Samir Kuntar, who led the 1979 Nahariya terror attack in which four Israelis were killed.
Adalah, a legal advocacy group for Israel’s Arab minority, said in response to the decision that Yazbak’s disqualification had “one sole purpose: to delegitimize and demonize the political representation of Palestinian citizens of Israel.”
The Likud denounced the court’s ruling as “disgraceful,” saying that it would be playing into the hands of the Blue and White Party, which would need the Joint Arab List’s support to form a coalition should Blue and White leader Benny Gantz defeat Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on March 2.
“Anyone who wants Heba Yazbak in the opposition and not in government must vote only for Likud,” the ruling party said in a statement.
Former Justice Minister Knesset member Ayelet Shaked (Yamina) lamented that “the High Court of Justice said a terrorist supporter was eligible” for a Knesset bid.
Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman said in response to the ruling that “this is a very unfortunate decision by the High Court of Justice. Yazbak and her ilk should be MPs in Ramallah not in the Israeli Knesset. The fact that the court overturned the Election Committee’s decision is a reward for the supporters of terrorism. Yisrael Beiteinu will never cooperate with the Joint Arab List, and we recommend Netanyahu and Gantz not do so, either.”
Knesset member Tamar Zandberg of the Labor-Gesher-Meretz alliance lauded the court’s ruling.
“I call on the right to accept the ruling and refrain from the standard incitement against the judiciary. The court’s ruling stems from legal considerations, not political ones,” she said.
Yazbak welcomed the court’s decision, saying that her disqualification had been “populist political persecution” with “no legal evidence.”
“This was not a personal disqualification request, but a move that was part of the ongoing persecution and delegitimization [of Arab MKs]. The Election Commission’s decision to disqualify me was a political move by a political committee, in which the parties competed in lambasting me and other Joint Arab List lawmakers.”
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.
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