Arab MK Hanin Zoabi and other candidates can’t be disqualified from running in next month’s elections, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein wrote Monday, effectively quashing drives to bar them from the political process.
In his position, filed with the Central Elections Committee, Weinstein said concerns contained in petitions filed against ultra-Orthodox and Israeli-Arab parties were not sufficient to warrant the parties being banned in a democratic country.
The parties at issue were Balad, Ra’am-Ta’al, Shas, United Torah Judaism, and Otzma Leyisrael.
Weinstein said the evidence against Zoabi, who hails from the Arab-Israeli Balad party, was “particularly disturbing, even bordering on the forbidden,” but that her actions were not grave enough to disqualify her candidacy.
The petition against Zoabi was signed by 13 of the 36 members of the Central Elections Committee and was led by Ofir Akunis (Likud). They claimed she undermined the state and its institutions, including the IDF, by participating in the Mavi Marmara flotilla that tried to breach the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip in May 2010.
Zoabi responded to the allegations by calling the Likud-Beytenu alliance a “fascist entity.” If she were prevented from running, Zoabi could have appealed to the Supreme Court.
Akunis vowed later to continue the effort to have Zoabi banned.
Weinstein wrote that there was a “disturbing affinity” among Balad and Ra’am-Ta’al for denying Israel as a Jewish state and supporting the armed struggle of terror organizations against Israel. He noted, however, that such allegations against them were even stronger before the 2003 elections — and that if they hadn’t been prevented from running then, there was no reason to bar them now.
Regarding the far-right parties, Weinstein said allegations against the Power to Israel party (Otzma Leyisrael) — which includes MK Michael Ben-Ari and Arye Eldad, and far-right activists Baruch Marzel and Itamar Ben Gvir — were lacking in evidence although one of the group’s main goals was denying the identity of Israel as a democratic state.
“The evidence against it is significant and disturbing — and the words and deeds attributed to the party’s candidates are even more tough and jarring — but even in these cases, their actions did not represent a ‘critical mass’ that is needed to prevent their participation in elections, as outlined by the strict criteria of the Supreme Court,” Weinstein wrote.
He also responded to allegations that two other parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism, seemed to be trying to subvert Israel from being a democratic state, but said their actions could not be considered the negation of the “principles of democracy” according to the Supreme Court’s guidelines.