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Occupation magazine - Commentary
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Zoabi`s Case: An Injustice the Court Did Not Fix
In an 8-1 ruling, the Israeli Supreme Court overturned the decision of the
Central Elections Committee (CEC) to disqualify Arab MK Haneen Zoabi from the
upcoming general elections. But although this ruling is important, it is not
enough to reverse the damage already done to the rights of the Palestinian
citizens of Israel.
The disqualification of Arab parties and candidates has become a predictable
feature of every Israeli election for the past decade, and is part of the
state`s wider attempts to repress political activism by Palestinian citizens.
The CEC`s decision against MK Zoabi thus came as no surprise, nor did the
committee members’ constant heckling and incitement during her speech in defense
of her right to represent the Palestinian minority in the Knesset.
Contrary to the claims made in the disqualification motions, in none of MK
Zoabi`s statements did she express support for the armed struggle of a
`terrorist organization`. Her political positions instead reflect legitimate
views that are shared by thousands of Palestinian men and women, including those
who protested against Israel`s 2014 military offensive on Gaza, and who were met
with police brutality and one of the largest campaigns of mass arrests in the
Palestinian minority`s history.
Meanwhile, in contrast to MK Zoabi, right-wing MKs in the last Knesset were busy
enacting a series of discriminatory laws and proposing bills to undermine the
legal status of Palestinian citizens, including their rights to freedom of
expression and association. While the Electoral Threshold Law targeted
Palestinian representation in the Knesset, the proposed “Anti-Terror Bill”
threatens political protestors and their families with severe punitive measures.
The ‘crown jewel’ of this legislation, the “Jewish Nation-State Bill”,
encapsulates the racist goals behind all these laws.
MK Zoabi’s disqualification is thus only one part of a larger game played by the
Israeli authorities: from the CEC to the police to the Knesset, all play a role
in the suppression of Palestinian voices that speak out against discrimination
and the occupation.
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