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Israel’s Supreme Court upholds Arab-Israeli lawmaker’s right to election run

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JERUSALEM (JTA) — Arab-Israeli lawmaker Hanin Zoabi may run in the upcoming Israeli elections, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled, overturning a vote by a government panel.

The nine justices ruled unanimously on Sunday to overturn the vote earlier this month by the Central Elections Committee to disqualify Zoabi from the Jan. 22 elections. The committee’s 19-9 vote with one abstention came despite a decision by Israel’s attorney general, Yehuda Weinstein, that there was not enough evidence to disqualify the lawmaker.

"The court’s decision proves that the attempts to disqualify me were the result of political and personal persecution against me, against my party and against the Arab public as a whole," Zoabi said in a statement following the court’s ruling. "The motions to have me disqualified were devoid of any legal merit. Still, this ruling does little to erase the threats, delegitimization and physical and verbal violence that I have endured inside and outside of the Knesset over the past three years."

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.

The combined campaign of the ruling Likud Party and the Yisrael Beiteinu party released a statement regretting the decision and saying it would alter the law.

"Given the court’s interpretation of the law, it is obvious that the law must change and clearly state that anyone supporting terror is automatically disqualified from being a Knesset member," the statement said. "The Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu parties will use their next parliamentary term to amend the existing law."
 

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