Photo: Noam Moshkowitz
Hanin Zoabi
Photo: Noam Moshkowitz
Photo: Hagai Aharon
Baruch Marzel
Photo: Hagai Aharon

Supreme Court overturns decision to ban Zoabi, Marzel

Firebrand MK Hanin Zoabi, rightwing activist Baruch Marzel were disqualified by the Central Elections Committee but 8 of the judges chose to overturn decision.

The Supreme Court overturned on Wednesday a decision to ban candidates Hanin Zoabi (Balad) and Baruch Marzel (Yachad) from running for Knesset.



The Central Elections Committee voted to disqualify both candidates, but in both cases eight judges ruled against the committee's decision while Deputy Supreme Court President, Judge Elyakim Rubinstein, was of the minority opinion that Marzel and Zoabi's candidacy should be disqualified.


Baruch Marzel and Hanin Zoabi (Photos: AFP, Yaron Brener)
Baruch Marzel and Hanin Zoabi (Photos: AFP, Yaron Brener)


The reasoning for the judges' decisions will be released on another date.


In favor of overturning the election committee's decision were Supreme Court President Judge Miriam Naor and judges Esther Hayut, Hanan Melcer, Yoram Danziger, Neal Hendel, Uzi Vogelman, Isaac Amit and Zvi Zylbertal.


MK Zoabi said following the court's decision, "The court viewed my remarks and actions as acts included in the freedom of speech and within the legal framework. I hope this ruling opens a door for my comments to be listened to as I say them and not to the fraudulent slander. The court exposed the massive gap between what is attributed to me to what I actually say."


Marzel said after the ruling, "It has been proven there is no racism in my positions. This was the left trying to silence me. Leftwing people who objected to Zoabi's disqualification supported my own disqualification. Anyone who thinks Zoabi is okay should go with her, those in favor of Israel's Torah should go with us. I suppose in the end I'll be able to send a bouquet of flowers to anyone who advertised me. I'll continue saying what I think, all within the confinements of the law."


Yisrael Beytenu's Avigdor Lieberman submitted the request to disqualify Zoabi, saying "Zoabi belongs with the terrorists from Hamas." 27 members of the Central Election Committee voted in favor of banning Zoabi and 6 objected. Zoabi was also disqualified by the committee ahead of the 2013 elections but then, as well, the Supreme Court overturned the decision.


Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein was against rejecting Zoabi, determining that while some of the remarks presented with the request to disqualify her were grave and very concerning, and could even be interpreted as supported in an armed struggle of a terror organization, "a close examination of the entire body of evidence tips the scale - not without hesitation - against disqualifying Zoabi."


The Central Election Committee also disqualified Marzel, number four on Eli Yishai's party list, claiming he was inciting to racism and never renounced the ways of the Kach movement. Seventeen voted in favor of disqualifying him while 16 voted against.


The request to bar Marzel from running was submitted by The Coalition against Racism, which said following the decision to ban him, "The Election Committee made a moral, important and just decision to disqualify the candidacy of the student Baruch Marzel, exactly as it disqualified his spiritual teacher Kahane at the time. Racism has no place in the Knesset.


Lieberman: Letting Zoabi run - a mark of disgrace 

"I hear all of the things being said about the two appeals and how everyone are laughing all the way to the Knesset and dress up for the month of Adar," Judge Elyakim Rubinstein said during the hearing at the Supreme Court on Tuesday. "On Zoabi you say it's hard to determine she supports terrorism and Marzel - it's hard to determine he supports racism. I'd expect you to determine where the line is drawn on this issue. I'd expect you to say what the bar is. The question is, is what looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, not a duck?"


Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said of the court's decision that "allowing Hanin Zoabi the possibility to return to the Israeli Knesset is a mark of disgrace on Israeli democracy, that doesn't know how to act like a defensive democracy when the need arises.


"The Supreme Court's decision is regretful and outrageous because anyone with two eyes can see Zoabi has broken the law that says those who support terrorism and an armed struggle against Israel or rejects the existence of Israel as a Jewish state are forbidden from serving in its parliament.


"The repeated decision by the Supreme Court to again and again change the decision of the election committee on disqualifying the candidacy of Arab MKs who support terror against Israel, raises the need to legislate the law anew in a way that the court won't be able to do it anymore, and Yisrael Beytenu will do so soon as the new Knesset is sworn in."


Adalah director Attorney Hassan Jabrin, who represented Zoabi, said that "the gap between the harsh and racist discourse at the Election Committee, which brands Arab MKs as supporters of terrorism, to the decisions of the court, which overturns the disqualifications every time, attests to the flawed considerations at the heart of the committee's decisions. The Election Committee's meetings and its decisions cause a tremendous damage not just to Arab parties and candidates, but seriously hurt the basic rights of Arab citizens, primarily the right for political representation, the freedom of expression, equality and dignity."


The head of the joint Arab list, Aiman Uda, said: "I'm glad the Supreme Court protected the values of democracy and prevented the dangerous and demagogic attempt by the right to disqualify the candidacy of the Arab MK Hanin Zoabi. The attempt to bar her from running is another way in which the right is trying to push out and exclude the Arab population from the Knesset and from circles of influence. Unfortunately for them, the joint list's success, as the polls show, is our victory over racism and hatred."


Attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir, who represented Baruch Marzel, said: "The court's decision on Zoabi and Marzel is half right. In my humble opinion, there was no doubt Zoabi needs to be disqualified and not allow the Israel hater to run in the Knesset elections. There's no place to compare her to an Israel lover like Baruch Marzel, especially since the evidence against her was strong and established while against Marzel there was nothing, only a vexing and political petition by the radical leftwing who don't know what democracy is."



Aviel Magnezi, Moran Azulay, Hassan Shaalan and Kobi Nachshoni contributed to this report.


פרסום ראשון: 02.18.15, 16:56
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