Israeli court dismisses ban on Arab politician’s parliament bid

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Israel’s top court on Sunday struck down a decision to disqualify an Arab politician from running in next month’s parliamentary election.

The Israeli Supreme Court voted 5-4 to overturn the Central Elections Committee’s ruling to bar Heba Yazbak, a lawmaker from the Palestinian nationalist Balad party, saying there was no legal basis for Yazbak’s disqualification.

The committee, which is made up of Israeli Parliament members, voted 28-7 last month to bar Yazbak. It claimed she had called Samir Kantar, a Lebanese militant convicted by Israel on five counts of murder in 1979, a “martyr hero.”

Yazbak, an outspoken advocate for Palestinian rights and critic of Israel’s West Bank occupation, welcomed the court’s decision.

She said that her disqualification had been “populist political persecution” with “no legal evidence.”

Adalah, a legal advocacy group for Israel’s Arab minority, said in response to the decision that Yazbak’s disqualification had “one sole purpose: To delegitimize and demonize the political representation of Palestinian citizens of Israel.”

Israel is heading into its third parliamentary election in under a year on March 2 after two inconclusive votes in April and September 2019.

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