The High Court of Justice on Tuesday discussed Yisrael Beytenu's appeal against a Central Election Committee ruling which forbade the party from giving out free copies of the satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Central Elections Committee chairman Justice Salim Joubran issued an injunction against them distributing the magazine earlier this month. The injunction came in response to a petition by MK Ahmed Tibi (Ta’al), who wrote that distributing the magazines violates the law against giving gifts as part of an election campaign and warned that doing so would likely disturb the peace, because it offends Muslims by mocking their religious symbols. Joubran accepted the first claim as reason enough to ban the party from acting as it planned, adding that it would be better if parties worked to bring Jews and Arabs closer and not take advantage of the tension between them.
In Tuesday's appeal hearing at the High Court, Chief Justice Miriam Naor appeared to be leaning toward a compromise decision that would allow Yisrael Beytenu to hand out only the first page of the magazine, rather than the whole issue. Naor said that the suggestion would avoid violating the law against giving out gifts prior to an election.
Yisrael Beytenu appeared to favor the compromise, while those who originally petitioned against the party distributing the magazine opposed it, because page one of the issue contains a caricature of the Prophet Mohammed.
The court appeared to be leaning toward accepting the compromise on Tuesday, as the ban had been based not on the picture of the Muslim prophet, but rather it was based on the prohibition against parties distributing free gifts prior to an election.
Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.