Israel court overturns ban on Arab politician
Israel’s Supreme Court on Sunday overturned a decision by the Central Elections Committee banning Arab-Israeli politician Haneen Zuabi from standing in next month’s snap general election.
“Following a hearing on 27/12/2012, it was decided unanimously to reject the Central Elections Committee’s decision… to prevent representative Haneen Zuabi from standing for elections for the 19th Knesset,” a summary of the court’s decision said.
The summary, which was released ahead of the full decision later on Sunday, did not explain why the court was overturning the committee’s decision, but confirmed that Zuabi would be able to stand in the January 22 vote.
A member of the Arab-Israeli leftwing Balad party, Zuabi is a controversial figure in Israeli society.
A firebrand critic of the government, Zuabi has regularly tangled with rightwing members of the Knesset, who sought to disqualify her from running in the next election.
They argue that she fails to recognise Israel as a Jewish state, and backed enemies of the state by participating in a 2010 Gaza-bound flotilla that was raided by Israeli commandos in an operation that killed nine Turkish activists.
Speaking to public radio after the court ruling, Zuabi said she was happy with the result.
“I welcome the Supreme Court’s decision. This is what I expected,” she said.
“I don’t regret having participated in the Mavi Marmara (flotilla). I know what I did,” she added.
“There was no legal basis for the (committee’s) decision, which was based only on political considerations,” she said in a separate interview with Israeli military radio.
“The Supreme Court has not succumbed to pressure from the racist right wing.”
Israel’s elections committee, which is composed of representatives from political parties, has in the past voted to ban Balad, as well as another Arab-Israeli party and other Arab Israeli politicians, from elections.
But those decisions were overturned by the Supreme Court, which had again been expected to strike down the decision banning Zuabi’s participation in the January poll.