Supreme Court bans Jewish nationalist leader, approves anti-Zionist Arab party

In response, party leader Ben-Ari slammed the high court as a “judicial junta that seeks to take over our lives.” 

By Associated Press and World Israel News

Israel’s Supreme Court on Sunday banned the leader of a Jewish ultranationalist party from running in the country’s April elections.

Reversing the decisions of Israel’s elections committee earlier this month, the court ruled to bar Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Strength) party leader Michael Ben-Ari in an 8-1 vote, while approving the radical anti-Zionist Balad party and ultra-leftist candidate Ofer Cassif.

Cassif, a lecturer at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the only Jewish candidate of the joint list of the Arab Hadash party and Ta’al faction, was previously banned for making comments comparing the Jewish state to Nazi Germany.

In response, Ben-Ari slammed the high court as a “judicial junta that seeks to take over our lives.” He added: “We will win. This is not the end.”

Israel’s Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, co-leader of the new Jewish Right party, called Ben-Ari’s disqualification “a blatant and distorted intervention in the heart of Israeli democracy.”

The court upheld the candidacy of Itamar Ben-Gvir, a lawyer and fellow leader of Otzma Yehudit.

In 2002, Michael Kleiner, then leader of the Herut party, brought a petition before the Israel Central Elections Committee to bar the extreme Balad party on the grounds that “it supports terror organizations, identifies with the enemy and acts against Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.”

In a bid to unite Israel’s right-wing bloc, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu struck a bargain last month that could pave the way for the extremist party to join Israel’s next governing coalition.