Uproar after court allows terror-sympathizing Arab MK to run in March election

Former Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked lamented that “the High Court of Justice said a terrorist supporter was eligible” for a Knesset bid.

By JNS and World Israel News Staff 

Israel’s top court on Sunday struck down a decision to disqualify an Arab politician from running in next month’s parliamentary election.

The High Court of Justice voted 5-4 to overturn the Central Elections Committee’s ruling to bar MK Heba Yazbak, a lawmaker from the Balad Party, which is part of the Joint List faction, saying there was no legal basis for her disqualification.

The committee voted 28-7 last month to bar Yazbak following a series of social media posts in which she lauded terrorists, including Hezbollah and Palestine Liberation Front member Samir Kuntar, who led the 1979 Nahariya terror attack in which four Israelis were killed.

Adalah, a legal advocacy group for Israel’s Arab minority, said in response to the decision that Yazbak’s disqualification had “one sole purpose: to delegitimize and demonize the political representation of Palestinian citizens of Israel.”

The Likud denounced the court’s ruling as “disgraceful,” arguing that it would be playing into the hands of the Blue and White faction, which would need the Joint List’s support to form a coalition should Blue and White leader Benny Gantz defeat Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on March 2.

“Anyone who wants Heba Yazbak in the opposition and not in government must vote only for Likud,” the ruling party said in a statement.

However, Gantz also criticized the decision to allow Yazbak to run.

Former Justice Minister MK Ayelet Shaked (Yamina) lamented that “the High Court of Justice said a terrorist supporter was eligible” for a Knesset bid.

Israel Beiteinu leader MK Avigdor Lieberman said in response to the ruling that “this is a very unfortunate decision by the High Court of Justice. Yazbak and her ilk should be MPs in Ramallah [in the Palestinian Authority], not in the Israeli Knesset. The fact that the court overturned the Election Committee’s decision is a reward for the supporters of terrorism. Israel Beiteinu will never cooperate with the Joint List, and we recommend Netanyahu and Gantz not do so, either.”

MK Tamar Zandberg of the Labor-Gesher-Meretz alliance welcomed the court’s ruling.

“I call on the Right to accept the ruling and refrain from the standard incitement against the judiciary. The court’s ruling stems from legal considerations, not political ones,” she said.

Yazbak applauded the court’s decision, saying that her disqualification had been “populist political persecution” with “no legal evidence.”

“This was not a personal disqualification request, but a move that was part of the ongoing persecution and delegitimization [of Arab MKs],” she claimed. “The Election Committee’s decision to disqualify me was a political move by a political committee, in which the parties competed in lambasting me and other Joint List lawmakers,” said Yazbak.

The Joint List is an alliance comprised predominantly of Arab MKs who do not recognize Israel as the Jewish State.

Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit had said that he did not back disqualifying Yazbak from running in the March Knesset election.