Right-wingers, Zoabi backers clash following hearing on lawmaker’s election ban

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Right-wing Israeli activists and supporters of Arab-Israeli lawmaker Hanin Zoabi clashed following a Supreme Court hearing on her disqualification from upcoming elections.

Zoabi said before a hearing in front of a panel of nine Supreme Court justices Thursday that she broke no law that could serve as the basis for disqualification.

"To disqualify me would be to disqualify all Arab citizens," Ynet quoted her as saying. 

Arab parties have threatened to boycott the Jan. 22 elections if Zoabi’s suspension is upheld.  

Following the court hearing, right-wing activists reportedly attempted to surround Zoabi and prevent her from leaving the courthouse. The activists reportedly scuffled with  Zoabi backers as she was ushered out of the building via a back exit.

"If they don’t disqualify Zoabi today, tomorrow she’ll throw a bomb in the Knesset," right-wing lawmaker Michael Ben-Ari said following the fracas, according to The Jerusalem Post.

Israel’s Central Elections Committee in a 19-9 vote last week with one abstention disqualified Zoabi from the elections, despite a decision the previous day by Israel’s Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein that there was not enough evidence to disqualify the lawmaker.

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 punished by the Knesset Ethics Committee for her actions.

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

On Wednesday, Weinstein’s office said it would not defend the Central Elections Committee decision before the high court.

"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 in a memo to the elections committee before its vote.

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