The disqualification of Arab parties and candidates has become a predictable feature of every Israeli election for the past decade, and is part of the state's wider attempts to repress political activism by Palestinian citizens. The CEC's decision against MK Zoabi thus came as no surprise, nor did the committee members’ constant heckling and incitement during her speech in defense of her right to represent the Palestinian minority in the Knesset.
Meanwhile, in contrast to MK Zoabi, right-wing MKs in the last Knesset were busy enacting a series of discriminatory laws and proposing bills to undermine the legal status of Palestinian citizens, including their rights to freedom of expression and association. While the Electoral Threshold Law targeted Palestinian representation in the Knesset, the proposed “Anti-Terror Bill” threatens political protestors and their families with severe punitive measures. The ‘crown jewel’ of this legislation, the “Jewish Nation-State Bill”, encapsulates the racist goals behind all these laws.
MK Zoabi’s disqualification is thus only one part of a larger game played by the Israeli authorities: from the CEC to the police to the Knesset, all play a role in the suppression of Palestinian voices that speak out against discrimination and the occupation.