Sparking outcry, Israel’s attorney general says terrorist-praising Arab MK can run for Knesset

The right-wing Yemina bloc charged that Mandelblit’s approval of MK Yazbak’s candidacy provided “a tailwind for terror support.”

By World Israel News Staff

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit says that he does not back disqualifying MK Heba Yazbak of the Joint List from running in the March 2 Knesset election because the parliamentarian has clarified that she had not called, in a television interview, for attacks on Israeli soldiers.

Yazbak, whose Joint List, predominantly comprised of Arab MKs, does not believe in Israel as the Jewish State, has also been criticized for social media posts, including one in 2015 in which she praised Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar, who had led a 1979 terror attack in the northern Israeli city of Nahariya in which five Israelis, including three members of the same family, were killed.

According to eyewitnesses, Kuntar shot Danny Haran, 31, and then killed Haran’s 4-year-old daughter, Einat, by smashing her skull against the rocks with his rile butt.

“The martyr fighter Samir Kuntar,” Yazbak wrote after the terrorist was killed in an airstrike in Syria attributed to Israel.

In a recent interview with Channel 13 TV, she said that “international law permits people under occupation to take action to liberate themselves.” When pressed in the interview over whether she was legitimizing attacking Israeli soldiers, she replied: “What isn’t legitimate is the continued occupation.”

In response to a clarification requested by Mandelblit, Yazbak said Monday that “I did not say that I support, or call for, harming soldiers or any other individual.”

Requests for her disqualification came from an MK in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, as well as from Israel Beiteinu, headed by former Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman.

Though the requests came from right-wing parties, there is widespread support across most of the political spectrum for banning Yazbak.

“There is not a critical mass of unequivocal and convincing evidence that justifies” her disqualification from the parliamentary election, the attorney general said in his decision submitted in a letter to the Central Elections Committee in response to the request to bar Yazbak from running.

Mandelblit did acknowledge that “some of the statements presented are very serious and repugnant.”

The Central Elections Committee is a political body and could still vote in favor of banning Yazbak. However, the attorney general’s decision could be a factor in swaying justices to overturn the committee’s ruling if an appeal is issued and the matter goes to the Supreme Court.

Yazbak is a member of Balad, one of the parties within the Joint List. A former Balad leader fled Israel over allegations of spying for Hezbollah against Israel, another party MK was sent to jail for smuggling phones to imprisoned terrorists, and yet another Balad parliamentarian took part in a deadly flotilla aimed at breaking Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip.

The right-wing Yemina bloc charged that Mandelblit’s approval of Yazbak’s candidacy provided “a tailwind for terror support.”