'Zionist Camp' Backtracks on Support to Bar Zoabi

Joint Labor-Hatnua list reportedly caves to pressure from Arab parties and will not support a move to bar MK Zoabi from running.

Elad Benari,

Hanin Zoabi
Hanin Zoabi
Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

After having earlier announced that it will support the barring of radical Arab MK Hanin Zoabi from the Knesset, the joint Labor-Hatnua list, known as the “Zionist Camp”, has changed its mind.

Army Radio reported on Monday that the “Zionist Camp” decided to backtrack on its support for the move after several members of the list expressed their dissatisfaction over the idea.

As well, the report said, Labor-Hatnua leaders Yitzhak Herzog and Tzipi Livni may have been influenced in their decision by statements from the Arab parties, which have threatened not to recommend Herzog for prime minister should he continue to support barring Zoabi.

Zoabi has a long history of radical anti-Israel statements made from her position as a member of Israel's Knesset.

Among other things she has said that Israel has “no right to a normal life,” and that “the Israeli occupation” was behind the murder of Israelis in Bulgaria. She has also declared that Israel should "thank her" for allowing Jews to live in the Jewish state. 

In June, she defended the Hamas terrorists who abducted and murdered three Israeli teens, saying they weren't "terrorists" and justifying their actions as a "legitimate" way to "fight the occupation."

Before the 2013 election, the Central Elections Committee banned Zoabi from running for the Knesset, under a clause requiring candidates and parties not to work against Israel's character as a Jewish, democratic state. However, the Supreme Court later overturned the decision and allowed Zoabi to run.

Responding on Monday to the Zionist Camp’s change of heart regarding Zoabi, the Likud party said, “Buji, Tzipi, and the Zionist Camp’s decision to stand alongside Hanin Zoabi is not coincidental. Arab Knesset members have already revealed that Buji turned to them to support him after the election and help him put together a leftist government.”

“Buji sees Tibi, Zoabi, Zahalka and the representatives of the Islamic Movement in the Arab list as his natural partners after the elections. Today the choice is clear: either a strong nationalist government headed by Netanyahu or a far-leftist government led by Buji and supported by Zoabi, Tibi, Zahalka and representatives of the Islamic movement.”

It has already been reported that Labor has been actively courting the Arab vote. In an Arabic-language ad, the party erased its name - the "Zionist camp" - instead calling itself "the Labor party for peace and equality."

In fact, Zuhair Bahalul, a former radio sportscaster who is a key Arab candidate on the Labor list, said he has "no problem" with Zoabi - before being told his party was supporting her barring.

MK Danny Danon (Likud), who has been collecting signatures from members of Israel's Central Elections Committee to bar Zoabi from running, responded to the backtracking as well and said, “Buji and Tzipi are zigzagging over their position on the disqualification of Zoabi and are thus embracing encouragement of terrorism. Having terrorist supporters in the Knesset is the new Zionism, according to the Labor party."