(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Central Elections Committee voted to disqualify Hadash candidate Ofer Kassif and the Israeli-Arab UAL-Balad Party from running in the April 9 election.
They plan to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, which has reversed all such bans in recent years.
Basic Law: Knesset states that candidates or lists can be barred from running in an election if they oppose Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, support armed conflict or terrorism against Israel, or incite to racism.
Kassif, the only Jewish candidate on the Hadash-Ta’al list, and UAL-Ba’ad were banned on the grounds that they oppose a Jewish and democratic state, and support armed conflict or terrorism against Israel. Both votes went contrary to the position of the attorney-general.
The Central Elections Committee, made up of representatives of the parties in the 20th Knesset, voted on Wednesday night to disqualify Kassif 15-10, but voted against banning the entire Hadash-Ta’al list 12-15. The UAL-Balad ban was approved 17-10.
Yisrael Beytenu and Otzma Yehudit submitted the petitions against Kassif, and Likud petitioned against UAL-Balad.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed satisfaction with the result, saying, "Whoever supports terror will not be in the Israeli Knesset!"
Balad responded to the decision, saying it “is a political, racist, and populist decision which is intended to hurt the political representation of Arab citizens. It is clear to us that the panel on which sit racist parties who don't want to see Arabs in Knesset is working to delegitimize us. We will work to abolish the authority of the Elections Committee to disqualify lists and candidates and will submit a bill on the matter."
Kassif has called Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked a neo-Nazi
, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a mass murderer, and said President Reuven Rivlin should go to hell.
The Hadash candidate recently called himself an anti-Zionist and said that he thinks Zionism is a racist practice of “Jewish supremacy,” but he also opposes it on socialist grounds, arguing that Zionism divides the working class. In addition, he said that “Zionism strengthens antisemitism.”
However, in Wednesday’s debate, Kassif said he “never denied the Jewish people’s right to self-determination in this land.
“I never ruled out the existence of a Jewish state,” he added. “We are for a State of Israel as a sovereign state next to an independent Palestinian state. That is what [former communist MK] Meir Wilner said 42 years ago. We are for an egalitarian state in which there is no discrimination. If someone wants to say that a Jewish state by definition discriminates against civilian populations, I oppose that.”
Kassif also said that the names he called officials were metaphors, and don’t mean he opposes a Jewish state, and that the way he spoke as a private citizen is not how he plans to speak as an elected official.
Otzma praised the decision to disqualify Kassif, saying “logic won in the Elections Committee. There is no place for a person who rejects the state’s Jewish character and supports terror in Israel’s legislature. We hope the High Court will understand this and teach Kassif that he does not belong in the Israeli parliament, he belongs in the Syrian parliament.”
The comment came a few hours after the Central Elections Committee rejected petitions to ban Otzma from running
Kassif said that the vote proves “the committee is led by discriminatory and exclusionary politics. They do not follow democracy and the rule of law, but racism and hatred for the Arab-Palestinian national minority and for all democratic forces.”
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