Israel’s AG rejects disqualifying Arab lawmaker from elections

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein said that there is not enough evidence to disqualify Arab lawmaker Hanin Zoabi from next month’s elections.

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Weinstein’s official legal response issued Monday also said that the evidence to disqualify two Arab parties — Balad and United Arab List-Ta’al — was also insufficient, though “disconcertingly close.”

“While the significant evidence that has been amassed in her case approaches the limit of what is acceptable, there isn’t enough proof to disqualify her,” Weinstein wrote of Zoabi.

Zoabi participated in the May 2010 flotilla to break Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza. She was on the Mavi Marmara, the ship on which nine Turkish passengers were killed after Israeli commandos storming the ship were attacked. She was later punished by the Knesset Ethics Committee for her actions.

She has also been accused of incitement against Israel and its military.

Weinstein also rejected petitions to disqualify the new ultra-nationalist Strong Israel party, and the haredi Orthodox Shas and United Torah Judaism parties.

Israel’s Central Elections Committee will meet Wednesday to officially review the requests to bar Zoabi and the political parties. Its decision can be appealed to Israel’s Supreme Court

The only disqualification of a party ever upheld by Israel’s Supreme Court was Rabbi Meir Kahane’s Kach Party in 1988.

Article 7A of Israel’s Basic Law says that: “A candidates’ list shall not participate in elections to the Knesset if its objects or actions, expressly or by implication, include one of the following: (1) negation of the existence of the State of Israel as the state of the Jewish people; (2) negation of the democratic character of the State; (3) incitement to racism.”

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