Israel’s High Court weighs ban on Otzma Yehudit candidates

Petitioner Tamar Zandberg of left-wing Meretz party calls far-right candidates “representatives of the terrorists.” 

By World Israel News Staff

The Israeli Supreme Court convened Thursday to hear a petition against the decision by the Central Elections Committee to allow a far-right Knesset candidate to run in next month’s parliamentary election.

The object of the petition is Michael Ben-Ari, a Member of Knesset from 2009-2013, who is running on a joint right-wing list in the April Knesset ballot. He was approved by the elections committee despite a recommendation to the contrary from Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit.

Among those issuing the petition in the Supreme Court is MK Tamar Zandberg, leader of the left-wing Meretz party.

Referring to the membership of party representatives on the central elections body, Zandberg told the court on Thursday that “a political committee decided to disqualify representatives of the Arab public and approve representatives of the terrorists,” referring to the approval given to Ben-Ari by the Central Elections Committee and its rejection of some Arab parliamentary candidates.

The attorney-general had based his opinion to bar Ben-Ari on comments that the former MK had made against the general Arab population. He and another candidate, Itamar Ben-Gvir, are followers of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, who promoted the expulsion of Arabs and advocated outlawing intermarriage between Jews and Arabs. Kahane served as an MK from 1984 to 1988.

Ben-Ari is quoted by the attorney general as saying in 2017 that “the Arabs want us slaughtered…Rabbi Kahane taught us that there is no coexistence with them.”

Speaking Thursday, he argued that he is not against Arabs, while at the same time accusing Zandberg of supporting terrorists by meeting on Sunday with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, “the one who is financing the murder of women and children, [with Zandberg] calling the meeting a summit for the issue of the Palestinian people.”

Ben-Gvir said last week that he does not agree with everything that Kahane promoted, adding that “it isn’t all the Arabs, and anyone who says that all the Arabs are enemies is a racist.”

The court decision is expected soon, ahead of the April 9 election.