Israel’s Supreme Court upheld, by a vote of 5 to 4, the candidacy of Joint List MK Heba Yazbak (Balad), on Sunday, February 9, overturning a January decision by the Knesset’s Central Elections Committee to bar her from running in the March 2 election over her alleged support of terror.
Almost all of the Knesset’s Zionist lawmakers united behind the efforts to ban Yazbak, including the centrist Blue and White party and parts of Labor-Gesher-Meretz coalition.
In the narrow 5-4 ruling, the top legal body said that while the posts publicized by Yazbak in Facebook “were inappropriate, there was not a critical mass of statements that justified disqualification.” Moreover, the court posited that a significant amount of time had elapsed since Yazbak’s most controversial post. Supreme Court President Esther Hayut was one of the four justices who supported retaining the ban against Yazbak.
Joint List head, MK Ayman Odeh (Hadash) praised the Supreme Court’s ruling on Yazbak allowing her participation in the upcoming elections. “The campaign of political incitement of the extreme-right crashed before the realities of the law,” Odeh said. “Anyone who supported disqualifying her should be ashamed. MK Yazbak will continue in the next Knesset fighting for peace, equality and democracy for all.”
Labor-Gesher-Meretz MK Itzik Shmuli, who initiated Yazbak’s disqualification in the Central Elections Committee, said he would respect the court’s decision, though he criticized it. MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) argued that the ruling “stems from legal and non-political considerations.” “I call on right-wing lawmakers to accept the verdict and, for a change, not to continue with their incitement against Arabs and the courts,” she said.