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Hanin Zoabi victory asserts Palestinian right to political participation Open in fullscreen

Nidal Mohammad Watad

Hanin Zoabi victory asserts Palestinian right to political participation

Hanin Zoabi is advocates a one-state solution for Israel and Palestine [AFP]

Date of publication: 20 February, 2015

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Analysis: Israeli politicians wanted to ban Palestinian MP from election for her views. But the supreme court ruled against them, showing a gap between Israeli political views and the law.

Palestinian Knesset member Hanin Zoabi will run in Israel's upcoming parliamentary elections following a decision by the Israeli supreme court to block an attempt to ban her.

The decision on Wednesday overturned an attempt by Israel's Central Electoral Committee to bar her from running due to her rejection of an two-state solution and comments made on Palestinian resistance.

However this should not be considered an act of kindness, or proof of Israel's democratic credentials.

Instead, it appears to have been taken due to fears of a Palestinian backlash in Israel. If the ban was imposed on Zoabi, it would have represented a historic precedent that Israel would find difficult to defend to the world community.

It could have led to an Arab boycott of the parliamentary elections, which would leave the Knesset without representation for more than 1.5 million Palestinians with Israeli citizenship.   

The motion to the electoral committee was originally put forward by two of the Knesset's most hawkish members of the Likud party and Israel Our Home party. The left-wing Meretz party was the only one to reject the motion.

Zoabi courts controversy in the country due to her ardent opposition to a two-state solution and rejection of Israel as a Jewish state, believing in a shared, one-state solution. The first female Palestinian Knesset member has received death threats and calls for her execution for her actions.

The decision is grounded in the fact that a legal adviser to the Israeli government advised that Zoabi cannot be denied the right to run due to her statements and political activism.

Zoabi is a member of the National Democratic Assembly, founded by the former Knesset member Azmi Bishara, whose aim is to transform Israel into a democracy for all its citizens, "irrespective of national or ethnic identity".

She is also an outspoken opponent of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and took part in the 2010 flotilla, which attempted to break the siege on Gaza.

Zoabi said the electoral committee's attempt to ban her was an attempt to curtail and criminalise Palestinian political activity inside Israel.

     This was an attempt to curtail and criminalise Palestinian political activity inside Israel, Zoabi said.

Hassan Jabbarin, the director of Adala legal centre, an organisation which fights Israeli bids to ban Palestinian parties and MPs, said: "What happened demonstrates the gap between the racist statements and actions of Israeli parties and the law that the courts have to abide by.

"There is a gap between the racist and violent rhetoric, which we heard in the electoral commission, and the decisions by the supreme court to continually overturn these bans time and time again.

"This gap exposes the real motives behind the electoral commission's decisions that constitute a real blow not only to Arab parties, but to the basic rights of Arab citizens, chiefly the right to political representation, freedom of expression, and the right to dignity."

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.       

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of al-Araby al-Jadeed, its editorial board or staff.

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