Le ministre des Affaires étrangères Avigdor Liberman.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
A group of people sought to disqualify Yisrael Beytenu head, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and Yahad candidate Baruch Marzel from running for the Knesset, calling them racists in a petition to the Central Elections Committee submitted on Wednesday.
The petitioners said they seek to protect the rights to full equality for Arabs in Israel, including their full participation in Israeli democracy, rights that all citizens of Israel already enjoy, according to law.
The group of 12 petitioners is made up of Jewish and Israeli- Arab activists from the radical Left, including Raneen Jeries, who helped organize the Nakba Film Festival; writer Matan Kaminer, who was one of several draft-dodgers given a prison sentence in a high-profile 2003 trial; Hadash activist Dr.
Anat Matar; and Silan Dallal, who was one of the subjects of an article about Jews who vote for Balad.
“The petitioners, mostly Jews, still enjoy privileges of freedom of expression and political action, but due to their stances, could find themselves as victims of silencing, boycotting and harm. They fear that the democratic fabric of life in Israel could be damaged and a racist ideology could be implanted in Israel society and, even worse, in the Knesset and government,” they wrote.
The petition refers to Yisrael Beytenu’s proposal for populated territory exchange as “not recognizing Arab citizens as having equal rights and seeking to expel them.”
It also says that Yisrael Beytenu targets and incites to racism against Arabs and Arab MKs, leading to violence, discrimination and boycotts.
The petitioners wrote letters to members of the Central Elections Committee, asking them to disqualify Marzel, the US-born Hebron resident and follower of assassinated farright Rabbi Meir Kahane, whose Kach party was banned in 1988 for inciting to racism.
The group cannot submit a petition to ban an individual candidate; such a request can only be made by one-third of the panel. In addition, MK Esawi Frej (Meretz) petitioned against Yisrael Beytenu’s slogan “Ariel for Israel – Umm el-Fahm for Palestine,” calling it racist.
“Liberman thinks he’s in charge and can decide who gets citizenship and who doesn’t, but the citizenship of Umm el-Fahm residents does not depend on Liberman or members of his party,” Frej wrote.
“In the Independence Scroll, it says the state ‘will have equal social and political rights for all its citizens, regardless of religion, race and gender,’ but the Yisrael Beytenu chairman isn’t interested in the Independence Scroll, certainly not in the parts about equality.”
Yisrael Beytenu responded that “there is no limit to the absurdity and cynical abuse of Israeli democracy, if we reach a situation in which representatives of terrorist organizations in the Knesset petition the Central Election Committee to ask them to ban a Zionist party in Israel, which stands alone against those who collaborate with Israel’s worst enemies.”
The party’s spokesman said Yisrael Beytenu will continue working in the next Knesset to take care of those who enjoy the fruits of Israeli democracy while trying to undermine it and seeking to stop its existence as a Jewish state.
Yahad said the attempt to bar Marzel from running has no legal basis and is “audacious and shameless, as it comes from a list that includes people who aid the enemy.”
The party added that “there are a number of Arab MKs whose natural place is the Gaza parliament.”