By a vote of 19 to 9 with one abstention, Israel's Central Elections Committee Wednesday disqualified Member of Knesset (MK) Hanin Zoabi from running for Knesset in the January 2013 elections. MK Zoabi, a member of the National Democratic Assembly (NDA), was disqualified primarily for her presence on the May 2010 Gaza-bound Freedom Flotilla, in which nine Turkish activists were killed and dozens wounded by Israeli commandos.
MK Zoabi was disqualified from running in the January 2013 elections by the Knesset's Central Elections Committee
Israeli analysts believe that the decision to disqualify MK Zoabi will be overturned by Israel's high court.
The committee further decided Wednesday not to disqualify the political parties National Democratic Assembly and Ra'am-Ta'al, both of which were disqualified by the committee prior to the 2009 elections; these disqualifications were subsequently overturned in court.
Six petitions were submitted to the elections committee to disqualify NDA, including by MK Danny Danon (Likud) and MK Michael Ben-Ari of the new Strong Israel party.
Speaking before the committee, MK Ben-Ari said his main motivation for demanding Zoabi's disqualification was to ensure that "our kids will be able to live in a normal Jewish state, not one in which 30 Zoabis serve in the Knesset." Fellow Strong Israel party member, MK Aryeh Eldad, told the commitee that “I am a doctor and believe in preventive medicine. You don’t have to wait for people to be caught spying or committing treason before barring them from running.”
Prior to the vote, NDA leader MK Jamal Zahalkha said that if Zoabi were prevented from running in the 22 January elections, his faction would boycott the elections and would also call on the Palestinian public within Israel to boycott. This, Zahalkha warned, "could create the most acute crisis of confidence ever between Arab citizens and the state."
Zahalka said that "our problem is not that we are terrorists, but rather that we are democrats in an environment that does not believe in democracy." "We are tired of apologizing for demanding full equality for all Israeli citizens," Zahalka added, "We're tired of sitting in the dock for being patriotic Palestinians."
Director of the Coalition against Racism, Nidal Othman, responded that this decision "is fuelled by political considerations of the committee members and deepens the distrust of many within the Arab public of Israeli democracy."