Adalah Submits Responses to Central Elections Committee (CEC) against the Disqualification of Arab Political Parties and MK Haneen Zoabi in the Israeli Elections

CEC Hearings to be held on Wednesday 19 December at 11:00am in the Knesset

(Haifa, Israel) Adalah will appear before the Central Elections Commission (CEC) on Wednesday 19 December 2012 representing the leaders of Tajammu’/Balad (the
 National Democratic 
Assembly - NDA), the United
 List ‐ Ra’am‐Ta’al, and Member of Knesset (MK) Haneen Zoabi against motions to disqualify them from running in the upcoming Knesset elections on 22 January 2013. Right-wing Knesset members filed disqualification motions against the Arab political parties and MK Zoabi pursuant to Article 7A of the Basic Law: The Knesset, which allows any list or candidate to be disqualified if "deny the existence of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state" or they support, directly or indirectly, "terrorist entities".

Adalah argued in the responses submitted today that the requests for disqualification do not contain any sufficient evidence or a legal basis to disqualify the Arab parties or MK Zoabi. Instead, they are part of a process of de-legitimization and marginalization against the Arab minority, led by the current Knesset coalition, and is therefore racist. "The disqualification motions are based on quotes, few in number and inaccurate published on different websites – and therefore do not deserve any consideration of their content," the responses stated. The responses included detailed testimony from Knesset Members Dr. Jamal Zahalka and Haneen Zoabi, from the NDA, and Ibrahim Sarsour and Dr. Ahmed Tibi, from Ra’am-Ta’al.

This process is not the first time that Arab political parties and these members have been subject to attempts to disqualify them before elections. In 2003, the CEC disqualified Tajammu’/Balad, and MKs Dr. Azmi Bishara and Dr. Ahmed Tibi from elections. In 2009, the CEC disqualified Tajammu’ and the United
List. In both cases, following petitions brought by Adalah, the Israeli Supreme Court overturned the CEC decisions and allowed the members and parties to participate in the elections.

The responses also included a paper written by Professor Sami Smooha, a sociologist at Haifa University who specializes in Arab society and the political divisions in Israel. Professor Smooha argued in his paper that, "It can be widely assured that when an Arab candidate is disqualified from elections, his party cannot participate - so to disqualify a candidate is to disqualify his party. The disqualification will not be accepted by the member's own party, in addition to other Arab political parties, and also to the public at large. Thus, these disqualifications could have very serious consequences.”