Israel disqualifies contentious Arab candidate from election

AP News
Posted: Feb 12, 2015 9:01 AM

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel's elections committee on Thursday voted to disqualify a contentious Arab lawmaker from running in the country's March 17 parliamentary elections.

Lawmaker Hanin Zoabi is known for her feisty and abrasive style in parliament. She has sided with the Palestinians in their conflict with Israel, prompting some Israelis to brand her a traitor.

Israeli media say Thursday's committee vote passed by a majority. The decision could still be overturned by the Supreme Court, which has happened in the past.

Zoabi said she wasn't surprised by the vote which she called "unjust" and "racist" and said she plans to appeal the decision.

Zoabi has a long history of angering mainstream Israelis. She boycotted the playing of the national anthem when she was sworn into Israel's parliament and often refers to the country as "racist."

She is active in Palestinian causes and participated in a pro-Palestinian flotilla that tried to break Israel's naval blockade of Gaza in 2010. Activists clashed with Israeli soldiers who boarded the ship, and nine activists were killed.

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After Thursday's vote, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in a statement that Zoabi belongs with "the Hamas terrorists in Gaza."

The same committee later disqualified a hawkish Israeli activist, Baruch Marzel, from running on grounds of incitement, Israeli media reported.