MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad) has been banned from running for the 19th Knesset by the Central Elections Committee, which censured her for supporting terrorism and for denying Israel’s identity as a Jewish and democratic state.
Zoabi will appeal the decision. If the appeal is rejected, the Arab party Balad will boycott the upcoming elections.
Zoabi’s name became infamous in Israel after she took part in the attempted illegal invasion of secure waters by the Mavi Marmara, a 2010 Gaza flotilla sent from Turkey which attempted to kill Israeli navy soldiers who boarded the ship in accordance with Israeli law.
When Zoabi returned to Knesset after the event, legislators erupted as she was brought to address the floor. Outraged, Yisrael Beytenu MK Anastasia Michaeli attempted to prevent the speech with her body. Indignant outcries gushed out of MKs Eli Aflalo (Kadima), Miri Regev (Likud), and Yoav Hasson (Kadima), and the floor descended into pandemonium.
Zoabi’s disqualification will automatically be brought to an appeal before the High Court of Justice. If her appeal is rejected, Balad plans to boycott the upcoming election. The only individual disqualification to be upheld by the court was that of Rabbi Meir Kahane in 1988.
Proponents of Zoabi’s disqualification, MKs Danny Danon (Likud), Arieh Eldad (Strong Israel), David Rotem (Yisrael Beytenu), Ofir Akunis (Likud), and Michael Ben-Ari (Strong Israel) presented before the committee, and further recommended that Balad and another Arab party, UAL-Ta’al, be included in the ban.
They cited Article 7A of the Basic Law which forbids candidates from rejecting Israel Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, inciting to violence or supporting enemy state or terrorist organization in violence against the State of Israel.
The petitions against Balad (13 for disqualification, one abstention, 16 against) and UAT Ta’al (6 in favor, 7 abstaining, 17 opposed) were rejected.
Zoabi’s disqualification passed with 19 in favor, 1 abstention and 9 opposed.