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Israel top court allows Arab lawmaker to run in polls

AFP  |  Jerusalem 

Israel's supreme court on Sunday overturned a decision by the country's elections body to disqualify an Arab lawmaker from running in March elections after accusations she supported "terrorists".

The central elections committee in January invalidated the candidacy of Heba Yazbak, a member of the Arab Joint List. Yazbak is a member of the Arab nationalist group Balad and has been in the Knesset since last April's polls.

A petition alleged she supported armed struggle against Israel and had praised militants who killed Israelis.

Yazbak was targeted in particular over a Facebook post in support of Samir Kantar, a member of the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah who was convicted of murdering three Israelis, including a four-year-old girl, in 1979.

"There was no 'critical mass' of formal evidence to justify disqualifying her," said the supreme court, which took into account "remorse" expressed by Yazbak.

Members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party had joined forces with the nationalist Yisrael Beitenu in the petition to disqualify Yazbak. The two parties seek the disqualification of parties which challenge the Jewish character of Israel or which support armed opposition to the Jewish state.

"Those who want Heba in the opposition and not in government must vote only for Likud," the Likud party wrote on Twitter after the court's decision was announced.

Israel's top court barred two members of the extreme-right party Jewish Power from running in the September 2019 elections over "incitement to racism."

The March 2 polls are Israel's third in less than a year, after national polls in April and September failed to yield a governing coalition.

Netanyahu's right wing Likud party was deadlocked with centrist Benny Gantz's Blue and White party in both the 2019 elections.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, February 10 2020. 02:48 IST