An Israeli flag is seen in the background as a man casts his ballot for the parliamentary election.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A three-justice panel of the Supreme Court late Tuesday ruled in favor of former public security minister Avi Dichter and against Deputy Transportation Minister Tzipi Hotovely to continue a recount of votes cast in the December 31 Likud primary.
The ruling overturned a decision of the Tel Aviv District Court to freeze the recount in the ongoing saga over who will get the Likud’s 20th slot in the March 17 general election.
Justices Elyakim Rubinstein, newly appointed deputy president of the court, Hanan Melcer and Yoram Danziger held that the key consideration was the will of the voters, which could best be realized by recounting votes even if there were other considerations pushing in the opposite direction.
The court noted the odd circumstances of the dispute, including that both Dichter and Hotovely, at different times and depending on who was ahead in the latest results, had insisted on a full recount or on stopping the recount.
The lawyer for the Likud party staked out a position the court called incoherent, and likely designed to simply avoid taking a side between the two warring “mountains.”
Ultimately, the court said the district court had overstepped its boundaries in criticizing the Likud’s internal court for overruling the Likud’s election committee, and reaffirmed that the internal Likud court had validly exercised its authority to order a recount since realizing the voter’s full will overpowered concerns of problems with the votes.
Dichter’s lawyer Dan Chai praised the verdict, saying the judges realized that only a recount could bring about the will of the voters and ensure that the Likud race would be conducted in a transparent manner.
“There is no doubt that justice prevailed,” Chai said.
Hotovely decided not to react to the decision until after the recount, which must take place quickly because Likud and all other parties are required to submit their lists to the Central Elections Committee by Thursday.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also must make his selections for two slots reserved for candidates of his choosing.