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.”

Libya’s Tripoli government seizes last LNA stronghold near capital

Updated 05 June 2020

Libya’s Tripoli government seizes last LNA stronghold near capital

  • Military sources in Haftar’s Libyan National Army said their forces had withdrawn from the town of Tarhouna
  • The advance extends the control of the Government of National Accord

TRIPOLI: Forces loyal to Libya’s internationally recognized government captured the last major stronghold of eastern commander Khalifa Haftar near Tripoli on Friday, capping the sudden collapse of his 14-month offensive on the capital.
Military sources in Haftar’s Libyan National Army, LNA, said their forces had withdrawn from the town of Tarhouna. They headed toward Sirte, far along the coast, and the air base of Al-Jufra in central Libya. The LNA made no immediate official comment.
The advance extends the control of the Government of National Accord, GNA, and allied forces across most of northwest Libya, reversing many of Haftar’s gains from last year when he raced toward Tripoli.
The United Nations has started holding talks with both sides for a cease-fire deal in recent days, though previous truces have not stuck. The GNA gains could entrench the de facto partition of Libya into zones controlled by rival eastern and western governments whose foreign backers compete for regional sway.
Turkish military support for the GNA, with drone strikes, air defenses and a supply of allied Syrian fighters, was key to its recent successes. Ankara regards Libya as crucial to defending its interests in the eastern Mediterranean.
However, the LNA still retains its foreign support. Washington said last week Moscow had sent warplanes to LNA-held Jufra, though Russia and the LNA denied this.
The United Nations says weapons and fighters have flooded into the country in defiance of an arms embargo, risking a deadlier escalation. Meanwhile, a blockade of oil ports by eastern-based forces has almost entirely cut off energy revenue and both administrations face a looming financial crisis.

Located in the hills southeast of Tripoli, Tarhouna had functioned as a forward base for Haftar’s assault on the capital. Its swift fall suggests Haftar’s foreign supporters were less willing to sustain his bid to take over the entire country once Turkey intervened decisively to stop him.
The GNA operations room said in a statement that its forces had captured Tarhouna after entering from four sides. Abdelsalam Ahmed, a resident, said GNA forces had entered the town.
Videos and photographs posted online appeared to show GNA forces inside Tarhouna cheering and hugging each other and firing into the air.
“The Libyan government forces are rapidly moving in an organized manner and with armed drones. There could be a solution at the table, but Haftar’s forces are losing ground in every sense,” said a Turkish official.