Israel electoral commission bans Arab MP’s reelection bid

The elections committee gave no reason for the disqualification

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Firebrand Arab MP Haneen Zuabi, a regular critic of Israel’s right-wing government, was banned Thursday from standing in next month’s general election.

The elections committee gave no reason for the disqualification, reported on its website, but Zuabi’s lawyer Hassan Jabareen said it was because she was deemed “hostile to the Jewish state.”

The committee also banned extreme right winger Baruch Marzel, a follower of radical rabbi Meir Kahane, assassinated in 1990.

A member of the leftwing Arab-Israeli Balad party, the 45-year-old Zuabi was also banned ahead of the 2013 election in a move overturned by the Supreme Court.

The country’s top tribunal must also rule in this case.

Zuabi rejects the concept of Israel as a Jewish state and of it living alongside an independent Palestinian state. Instead, she supports the idea of a single state in which Jews and Arabs have equal rights.

Israel has 1.3 million Arab citizens, or 20 percent of the population. They are the descendants of 160,000 Palestinians who remained on their land when the state of Israel was established in 1948.

Zuabi’s opponents also claim she backed enemies of the state by participating in a 2010 bid to break Israel’s maritime blockade of the Gaza Strip. An Israeli commando raid on the Mavi Marmara flotilla killed nine Turkish activists.

The latest action against her was brought by members of the governing right-wing Likud party and the ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beitenu party on the grounds that she supports the “armed struggle against Israel.”

Zuabi’s opponents point out that she was suspended from parliament in July after declaring that the Palestinians who murdered three Israeli teenagers -- an act that set off a series of events leading to a war in the Gaza Strip -- were not terrorists.

Last month, Israel’s four Arab political parties decided to fight the March 17 election as a single block. Zuabi is seventh on that united list, which opinion polls have suggested could win between 10 and 13 seats in the 120-member Knesset.

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