Israeli High Court allows Heba Yazbak to participate in elections

Israeli court allows MK Heba Yazbak to contest March 2 election. (AFP)
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Updated 13 February 2020

Israeli High Court allows Heba Yazbak to participate in elections

AMMAN: The Israeli High Court ruled on Feb. 9 that Heba Yazbak, a member of Knesset (MK), will be allowed to run in the March 2 Israeli elections despite an overwhelming vote in Knesset calling for her disqualification.

Head of the Joint Arab List Ayman Odeh praised the Supreme Court’s ruling, saying that efforts to incite against Arabs have crashed. 

“The campaign of political incitement of the extreme right crashed before the realities of the law,” Odeh said. “Anyone who supported disqualifying her should be ashamed. MK Yazbak will continue in the next Knesset fighting for peace, equality and democracy for all.”

Salwa Hdeeb, a member of the Fatah central committee, told Arab News that Israel tries to gag Palestinian voices in general, and especially voices within Knesset. 

“Heba Yazbak has an audience and is popular because she is able to touch people with her strong legal knowledge of Israeli policies. They are provoked by her quiet demeanor yet strong position that angers her enemies and makes her a target for the extreme Israeli right-wing.”

Hdeeb said that Yazbak has supported Palestinians in Jerusalem whose homes were threatened with demolition by Israel, and she had done the same with the people of the village of Araqbeen in Israel. 

“She has also defended Palestinian political prisoners and said in an official document to the Knesset that they are prisoners of war. She has also stood by the people of Jerusalem defending Al-Aqsa from Jewish extremists.”

Experts in gender issues say that attacks against strong Palestinian women have become a prevailing phenomenon in Israeli society. It appears that articulate Arab women bring out the worst in Israelis who fear such women because they challenge the stereotype that they have of Palestinian women.

The campaign of political incitement of the extreme right crashed before the realities of the law.

Ayman Odeh, Head of the Joint Arab List

Afaf Jaabari, a lecturer in gender and migration at the University of East London, told Arab News that Israelis fear such independent women because it threatens one of the tenants of worldwide support for Israel. 

“Israel has worked on gaining world sympathy precisely on the basis of being a democracy that respects human rights and that they are dealing with barbaric backward people. Women like Yazbak and before that Haneen Zoubi, Ahed Tamimi and member of the Palestinian legislature Khalida Jarrar destroys that narrative.”

Yazbak, who has a Ph.D. from Tel Aviv University in sociology and anthropology, and is a member of the Joint List from the Balad party, was threatened with disqualification for her support of Palestinian and Arab nationalists and former prisoners. Right-wing Israeli attackers consider her to have praised terrorism and asked the Israeli high court to remove her from the Arab Joint list for the upcoming Israeli Knesset elections.

Tamar Zandberg, head of the left-wing Meretz faction, called on the Right to accept the ruling on Yazbak and not “incite as usual against Arabs and the courts.” The Likud called the ruling “shameful.”

Yazbak has vowed to “continue to work for political and civil justice, against the occupation and against racism, discrimination and incitement.”

The left-wing Israeli journalist and political analyst, Anat Saragusti, said that the issue was about discrimination and a struggle of narratives. Saragusti told Arab News: “It is sad to see how opinionated and strong Palestinian women get a misogynist attitude as if they are not entitled to have an independent world view.”

Turbulent times in parliament: A new normal for Turkish politics?

Updated 10 min 36 sec ago

Turbulent times in parliament: A new normal for Turkish politics?

  • Two deputies from the HDP and one deputy from the main opposition CHP lost their positions on Thursday
  • Insights from Ankara suggest two more parliamentarians from the HDP may be stripped of their seats soon

ISTANBUL: After three opposition politicians were stripped of their status as members of parliament in Turkey on Thursday, June 4, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) made it clear that a new period had begun in Turkish politics, given the country’s preoccupation with economic deterioration and rising unemployment that has already rendered many voters disenchanted. 
Two deputies from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and one deputy from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) lost their positions, and were arrested in an overnight operation on terror charges.
The Kurdish politicians, Leyla Guven and Musa Farisogullari, were detained, while the CHP deputy, Kadri Enis Berberoglu, was released from police custody after less than 24 hours as part of anti-coronavirus measures in Turkish prisons. Several HDP deputies were later beaten by police during a protest in Ankara over the imprisonment of their colleagues.
Insights from Ankara suggest two more parliamentarians from the HDP may be stripped of their seats soon as their files are being reviewed by the Turkish Court of Cassation. 
The crackdown on opposition figures does not end with politicians. The government is also working on a legislative change to the way bar associations elect their board members. Fifty bar associations recently released a joint statement against any move to limit their power and to increase pressure on the country’s already weakened judiciary.
The AKP and its coalition partner, the Nationalist Movement Party, are also working on another legislative amendment to ban the transfer of parliamentary deputies to other parties over fears that newly founded opposition parties could be strengthened with the transfer of deputies from the CHP to take part of upcoming elections.
Ten new political parties were established in Turkey over the past five months, bringing the total number to 91 — two of them, the Democracy and Progress Party, and the Future Party, to target disillusioned AKP voters and liberal segments of society.
“Turkey has been a consolidated authoritarian state for some time and attacks on the HDP are certainly not new,” said Paul T. Levin, director of the Stockholm University Institute for Turkish Studies.
“Going after the CHP would be a dramatic escalation, but they have been focused on Berberoglu for some time due to his involvement in the arms truck scandal,” he told Arab News.
Berberoglu, a former journalist, was arrested for providing dissident daily newspaper Cumhuriyet with confidential footage of Turkish National Intelligence Organization trucks allegedly carrying weapons to Syria.
According to Levin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan may be trying to weaken the opposition in advance of a snap election, that is widely expected to be held next year.  
“As for the bar associations, they have long been an important source of opposition to attempts to undermine the rule of law. It would really be a terrible blow to what remains of judicial independence if they were neutered,” he said.
There are still dozens of Kurdish politicians behind bars in Turkey, including parliamentarians, mayors and the party’s former co-chairs. The HDP released a statement following the arrests of Guven and Farisogullari, and said: “Turkey now witnesses yet another coup — this pro-coup mindset has been prevailing in parliament for 26 years.”