Central Elections Committee disqualifies MK Haneen Zoabi from running in upcoming Israeli elections; Supreme Court to review on 17 February

Mk Zoabi: "Right-wing parties are prosecuting Arab MKs who represent the Palestinian people, and who fight for justice, equality and freedom."

On Thursday 12 February 2015, a majority of 27 to 6 members of the Central Elections Committee (CEC) decided to uphold motions submitted by right-wing political parties to disqualify Arab MK Haneen Zoabi from running in the upcoming general elections for the Israeli Knesset, scheduled for 17 March 2015. The CEC’s decision contradicts the position of the Attorney General, which opposed MK Zoabi’s disqualification. Adalah submitted a detailed response to the CEC on behalf of MK Zoabi, answering all of the allegations raised by the right-wing parties in their motions.


The CEC’s decision, in accordance with the law, is forwarded automatically to the Israeli Supreme Court (SCT).  An expanded panel of 9 justices will hear the case on Tuesday, 17 February 2015 at 9:00 am.  Adalah's General Director, Attorney Hassan Jabareen, represented MK Zoabi before the CEC and will also argue before the SCT. The SCT must deliver its judgment by 22 February 2015. In the previous elections in 2013, the SCT voted not to disqualify MK Zoabi from running for election.


The motions to disqualify MK Zoabi were submitted by the Likud party (headed by Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu) and the Yisrael Beiteinu party (headed by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman). The motions claim that MK Zoabi “supports the armed struggle of terrorist organizations,” based on comments she made about the kidnapping of three Jewish-Israeli settler teenagers in the West Bank in June 2014. At the time, MK Zoabi stated that the perpetrators of this act "are not terrorists"; however, the right-wing parties failed to note the other part of MK Zoabi’s statement, in which she emphasized, "even though I do not agree with them." Adalah responded to the disqualification motions' claims arguing that, "MK Haneen Zoabi has clear positions.  She supports the popular struggle [against the occupation], and opposes harm to civilians. What has angered the applicants who called for MK Zoabi’s disqualification is that her statements deal equally with the value of human life among the two peoples."


MK Zoabi gave a speech before the CEC, which was boycotted by many of its members from beginning to end. MK Zoabi was accused by representatives of right-wing parties of performing "terrorist" acts, with her "hands stained with blood". Other members made chauvinistic and racist remarks about what she wore. MK Haneen Zoabi said that "those who are calling for my disqualification are the same ones who declare that their enemy is an entire people of men, women and children. They are the same ones that imprison a 14-year old (Palestinian) child, Malak Al Khatib; that pass laws that prevent a mother from living with her children; and that prohibit a human from building on their land. They are the ones that should be disqualified for supporting the killing of thousands of innocent people in Gaza."


MK Zoabi stressed that the CEC was not just prosecuting her, but "prosecuting the struggle of a people that refuse to submit to repression, and prosecuting all Arab MKs who represent the voice of the Palestinian people, and who fight for justice, equality and freedom."


The head of the Joint List (the united slate of Arab political parties), Ayman Odeh, emphasized in his speech to the CEC that it is absurd that there are "Knesset members who are proud of killing Arabs, who called for the bombing of Gaza and the destruction of homes on top of their inhabitants, and who tried to pass the Jewish Nation-State bill, which denies Arab citizens’ rights. These members are accepted, legitimate and popular, while the legitimacy of MK Haneen Zoabi who calls for a state of all its citizens and full democracy, is taken away from her."


MK Ahmed Tibi stated in his speech before the CEC that: "Haneen Zoabi is persecuted because she refused to say that the Palestinians are terrorists. All of the Arab MKs never said, in their lives, that Palestinians are terrorists. You, in the Knesset, have honored political figures who slaughtered Palestinian families."