Israeli committee bars Haneen Zoabi from upcoming elections

Zoabi Haneen Zoabi, on the right, tries to speak as Anastassia Michaeli of the Yisrael Beteinu party is escorted off of the podium (David Vaaknin/AP)

The most prominent Israeli citizen of Palestinian descent in the Israeli Knesset was disqualified today from participating in next month’s elections. Haneen Zoabi, a Member of Knesset (MK) from the Balad party, was barred due to a decision by the Israeli Central Election Committee. 

The committee also declined to disqualify two Palestinian political parties–Balad and United Arab List. 

YNet News reports that “Nineteen committee members voted in favor of disqualifying Zoabi, nine opposed and one member abstained.” The deck was stacked against Zoabi–many of the committee members were right-wing politicians.

Zoabi was barred because of her involvement in the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident, where Israeli naval commandoes stormed a Gaza aid flotilla and killed 9 activists. Zoabi was part of the flotilla. 

The case now goes to the Israeli Supreme Court. +972 Magazine‘s Noam Sheizaf explains that the court is likely to overturn the decision:

Chances are that the Supreme Court will indeed let Zoabi run (I am pretty sure that some of the MKs who voted against her had this in mind). Israeli law actually makes it harder to prevent a specific candidate, rather than an entire party, from running, and the evidence against him or her needs to be very strong. This is not the case with Zoabi. Earlier this week, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein issued an opinion claiming there is not enough evidence to disqualify Zoabi. It is thus very unlikely that even the current Supreme Court, which is more conservative then previous ones, will take a different position.

In the unlikely scenario that Zoabi is disqualified, a boycott – at least partial – of the elections by Palestinian citizens of Israel is likely. Such a scenario won’t only change the outcome of the vote, but would also be a watershed moment between Arab and Jewish citizens in Israel, the significance of which will be felt long after these elections.

Zoabi recently published an essay on Mondoweiss taken from the foreword to Ben White’s book Palestinians in Israel: Segregation, Discrimination and Democracy. Here’s an excerpt from that piece:

The argument that the relationship between Israel and the Palestinians is one of a conflict with a racist settler project that was founded on notions of ethnic purity is understood implicitly by all Palestinians. We Palestinians were quick to comprehend the relationship between ourselves – as indigenous inhabitants of this land – and those who came to take our place (in every sense) without even considering a common life with or alongside us, and without acknowledging that which had gone before them.

The core issue is not a shift in paradigm so much as a return to an old paradigm, that which dominated the Palestinian national liberation movement at least ten years prior to Oslo. I am a member of the political party that has revived this ‘new/old’ paradigm, as a part of a larger Palestinian political project. The focus of this project moved from the Diaspora – previously the heart of the Palestinian national movement – to the West Bank and Gaza Strip following the First Intifada, before shifting once again to rest on a group that had been regarded as marginal to, or even outside, the Palestinian national movement: the Palestinians whom Israel didn’t expel in 1948.

About Alex Kane

Alex Kane is an assistant editor for Mondoweiss and the World editor for AlterNet. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.
Posted in Israel/Palestine | Tagged

{ 5 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. OlegR says:

    /The most prominent Israeli citizen of Palestinian descent in the Israeli Knesset /
    Is actually KM Ahmed Tibi.
    Zoabi is just the most annoying one though some Jewish KM annoy me a whole of a lot more the she does with her little provocations.

  2. Abdul-Rahman says:

    Remember things like this, and this of course link to 972mag.com whenever you hear the hasbara brigade out claiming “Israel is a democracy, and Arab Israelis have ‘full rights’” etc. (putting aside the occupied territories of course)

    And also remember truth like this as well link to youtube.com

    link to newint.org

    Scholar Ilan Pappe; “No, Israel is definitely not a democracy. A country that occupies another people for more than 40 years and disallows them the most elementary civic and human rights cannot be a democracy. A country that pursues a discriminatory policy against a fifth of its Palestinian citizens inside the 1967 borders cannot be a democracy.

    In fact, Israel is what we in political science call a herrenvolk democracy, democracy only for the masters. The fact that you allow people to participate in the formal side of democracy, namely to vote or to be elected, is meaningless if you don’t give them any share in the common good or in the common resources of the state, or if you discriminate against them despite the fact that you allow them to participate in the elections. On almost every level – from official legislation through governmental practices to social and cultural attitudes – Israel is only a democracy for one ethnic group which, given the space that Israel now controls, is not even a majority group anymore. So I think that you’ll find it very hard to use any known definition of democracy which is applicable for the Israeli case.”

  3. Let’s never hear again about israel being a democracy.

  4. a blah chick says:

    What’s really great about that picture is that Michaeli got dropped by her party (no doubt in order to spend more time with the family) and Zoabi will probably keep her seat. That is the best revenge, outlasting your enemies.

    I’m sure that the wingnuts pine for the good ole days of military government that would keep uppity Arabs like her in their place.

  5. Kathleen says:

    The hatred and racism displayed by Israeli knesset members during Zoabi’s speech after the Israeli massacre of human rights activist on the Mavi Marmara made the hatred so clear. She is a very brave and honorable individual