Netanyahu supports scrapping law barring racist Knesset candidates, plans new law

Otzma Yehudit claims current law was only used against right-wing Jewish politicians and not Arab “haters of Israel” lawmakers.

By World Israel News Staff

Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party said Sunday it was in favor of a plan by firebrand MK Itamar Ben-Gvir to strike down a law prohibiting terror supporters and racists from running for Knesset, citing its ineffectiveness, and instead calling for new legislation.

Days earlier, Ben-Gvir’s Otzma Yehudit party revealed that the plan to nix the law was part of the party’s coalition deals with Likud, prompting outrage. Ben-Gvir claimed that the law was being used disproportionately against right-wing individuals, and prevented three members of his party from running for parliament.

The law in its present form “did not prevent racists and terror supporters from running for Knesset,” Likud said in statement.

“Therefore, Netanyahu intends to cancel that clause and legislate a new law to fight racism and terror that will ensure equal and effective enforcement for both Jews and Arabs.”

The law, which is a clause within the Basic Law, states that no Knesset candidate, whether Jewish or Arab, can deny the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state; incite racism; or support an enemy state or a terrorist group or any armed resistance against Israel.

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Outgoing Prime Minister Yair Lapid responded to Likud’s statement sardonically, tweeting: “I agree with Likud that the current law hasn’t prevented racists and terror supporters from entering the Knesset. Ben-Gvir for instance.”

Ben-Gvir said in response to Likud’s statement that his party would want to ensure any new legislation doesn’t “only discriminate against Jews.”

He went on to site former Arab MKs Heba Yazbak, Haneen Zoabi, and Azmi Bishara, who were known for their rabid anti-Israel invective, as examples of individuals who should never have been allowed to run for Knesset had the law been upheld.

“If Likud is interested in a new law, we’d like to discuss it. We too are not interested in witnessing racism in the Knesset but are not interested in injustice and persecution of Jews alone while haters of Israel like [Hadash-Ta’al leader] Ayman Odeh are free to run for Knesset,” he said.