Hanin Zoabi
Hanin ZoabiHadas Parush/Flash 90

Likud MK and central committee chairman Danny Danon says he is confident he will succeed in having extremist MK Hanin Zoabi banned from running for election next March.

On Tuesday Danon announced he was collecting signatures from members of Israel's Central Elections Committee to bar the radical Arab MK from standing, in light of her "consistent" statements in support of terrorism and against the existence of the State of Israel.

Speaking to Arutz Sheva, Danon noted that according to Israeli law a candidate can be disqualified "if they incite against the State of Israel, if they support racist activities or terrorist organizations."

That refers to a 1985 amendment to Israel's Knesset Law (7A), which states that "a candidates' list shall not participate in elections to the Knesset if its objects or actions, expressly or by implication, include one of the following: (1) negation of the existence of the State of Israel as the state of the Jewish people; (2) negation of the democratic character of the State; (3) incitement to racism." 

"There is a a limit to democracy," he said. "You cannot use democracy in order to hurt your own country."

The Central Elections Committee is likely to agree - as it did prior to the last elections when it did indeed ban Zoabi from running. But there is still one major obstacle in Danon's way: the High Court, which overruled the Committee in 2012 and re-allowed Zoabi's candidacy.

But Danon says he is cautiously optimistic that this time will be different, noting the unprecedented dressing-down Zoabi received from judges at a recent court hearing which saw her appeal against a six-month Knesset ban categorically rejected. The temporary ban had been handed as a result of comments she made sympathizing with the Hamas murderers of three Israeli teenagers - Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Sha'ar and Naftali Frenkel - back in June.

"Only two weeks ago I was at the High Court when MK Zoabi appealed against the Knesset ethics committee decision to ban her from entering the plenum for six months," Danon said. "The judges said very clearly why it was the correct decision, and why what she said after the kidnap of the three boys was unacceptable."

"I think today we have enough evidence to ban Hanin Zoabi from running for the Knesset," he added, although he cautioned that there are "no guarantees," particularly given the High Court's previous record on the issue. "But what the judges said gives me hope."

"First I need to get the support of the elections committee - and I think I will - and after that I will need to go back to the court. I hope that this time the High Court judges will adopt the right position."

Danon pointed out that the law he is relying on was the same one used to ban the right-wing Kach party back in 1988.

"Back then the High Court said that it was legitimate," he noted.

Hinting at suspicions that political correctness could be behind the double-standard, he emphasized: "I understand the concern of the High Court regarding the rights of minorities - but there is no right to incite against your state! There is no right to 'understand' the killers of the three boys!"

"There's no right to support the people who were on the (Mavi) Marmara!" he continued, referring to Zoabi's participation in a 2010 terrorist flotilla which attempted to break through Israel's naval blockade on Gaza. The lightly-armed soldiers who boarded the Turkish Mavi Marmara ship were immediately attacked by Islamists, some of whom were linked to Al Qaeda, leaving several soldiers seriously injured. Troops returned fire and killed nine of their attackers.

Although she did not physically attack the soldiers herself, Zoabi was present on the ship at the time and had actively supported the initiative to break through the Israeli blockade.

"Today there are people - those troops - sitting at home crippled because of what happened on the Marmara," fired Danon. "By supporting terrorist activity she has actually crossed the line."

"It's worth remembering that her mentor (Balad party founder) Azmi Bishara was also approved (to run) by the High Court in the past," he added, referring to the court's 2003 decision to overturn the Central Elections Committee's decision to ban Bishara, along with fellow MK Ahmed Tibi and the Balad party as a whole. "Today, he is on the run from an investigation on his cooperation with Hezbollah!"

Although he says the behavior and comments of other Arab MKs have also been "problematic," Danon explains that he is singling out Zoabi due to the "consistency" of her behavior, accusing her of simply acting as a Hamas advocate at the state's expense.

Incitement and provocation "are the only things she is doing," he observed.

"You can't name any bills she passed, or any motions. She's busy 24/7 inciting against the State of Israel - and it's all happening at the taxpayers expense!"

Danon is not the only one who thinks Zoabi has "crossed the line."

Earlier this month Israel's State Attorney, Shai Nitzan, recommended the Balad MK be indicted for an incident in which she verbally abused two policemen and encouraged Arab youths to attack them.

Other MKs have also been queuing up to push for her disqualification from the upcoming elections.

Battle for Likud

On a separate issue, Danon related to the upcoming Likud primaries, which will see him face off against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, following the withdrawal of MK Moshe Feiglin from the Likud leadership race.

Danon - who has clashed openly with the PM on numerous occasions, and was even fired from his position as Deputy Defense Minister as a result - said the leadership contest was also a battle for the character of the Likud party.

"I present a very clear platform: I am against the idea of a two-state solution" or land concessions of any kind, he said, calling for Likud to "return to its root values." 

Ultimately "the Likud members will have to decide: do they want to stay where we are, or do they want to return to the real values of the Likud?"