The Israeli Supreme Court overruled Wednesday a ban on a member of Knesset from Israel’s Palestinian community as well as an extreme right-wing Jewish activist from running in next month’s election, an official said.
Last week, the Central Elections Committee barred MK Haneen Zuabi, a regular critic of Israel’s right-wing government, deeming her to be “hostile to the Jewish state.”
It also excluded Baruch Marzel for alleged racism.
“She can be a candidate,” a spokesman for the courts administration said of Zuabi. “So can he (Marzel).”
The exclusion orders required the Supreme Court’s ratification in order to take effect, and their rejection by the tribunal had been widely expected.
The CEC had barred Zuabi from standing in 2013 but that was nullified.
Zuabi rejects the concept of Israel as a Jewish state and supports a single country in which Jews and Arabs have equal rights.
Arab-Israeli legal rights group Adalah said the court’s overturning of the Zuabi ban by a large majority demonstrates the “improper motives” of the CEC, which it said “portrays Arab (MPs) as supporters of terrorism.”
CEC decisions “are not only harming Arab political parties and candidates, but are also violating the basic rights of Arab citizens of Israel, namely their rights to political participation, freedom of expression, equality and dignity,” a statement added.
As for Marzel, a follower of assassinated racist rabbi Meir Kahane, his attorney said that slurs against migrants and Arabs attributed to him were either never made or were misunderstood.
Last month, Israel’s four Arab parties decided to fight the March 17 election as a single block. Zuabi is seventh on a united list, which opinion polls suggest could win between 10 and 13 seats in the 120-member Knesset.
Israel has 1.3 million Palestinian citizens, sometimes called Arab-Israelis, who compose 20 percent of the population.
They are the descendents of 160,000 Palestinians who remained on their land during the mass displacement of the remaining Palestinian population during the creation of the State of Israel in 1948.
(Agencies and Ma’an – www.maannews.net)