Far right Otzma, Likud file appeal demanding Arab parties be disqualified

According to Otzma, its appeal included evidence that the four Arab parties comprising the Joint List support terrorism.

August 20, 2019 21:44
2 minute read.
Far right Otzma, Likud file appeal demanding Arab parties be disqualified

An advertisement for the Otzma Yehudit party featuring Michael Ben-Ari, Baruch Marzel, Itamar Ben-Gvir and Benzti Gopstein in Jerusalem, February 14, 2019. (photo credit: JERUSALEM POST)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud joined the far-right Otzma Yehudit Party in filing an appeal to the Supreme Court on Tuesday against the Central Election Committee’s decision to allow the Joint List of Arab parties to run in the September 17 election.

The court case will be argued in court on Thursday and the judges must decide by Sunday. If they accept the appeal, it is likely that the only Arab in the 22nd Knesset will be MK Essawi Frej of the Democratic Union, who is the only Arab candidate running in a realistic slot of a party expected to cross the electoral threshold. 

The Likud responded that in the past, the party had supported disqualifying Balad, and the other three parties running with Balad are guilty by association.
"The Likud is not opposed to havring Arabs in the Knesset, as long as they don’t incite to violence or support terror as Balad has in the past," Likud spokeswoman Rachel Broyde said.   

According to Otzma, its appeal included evidence that the four parties comprising the Joint List support terrorism, including visits made by serving MKs from those parties to convicted terrorists.

Otzma leader Itamar Ben-Gvir added that the appeal also included an interview Joint List leader Ayman Odeh gave to the Lebanese Al Mayadeen news channel in Arabic where, according to Ben-Gvir, Odeh said that the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement could lead Israel to take “historic decisions against the interests of our people.”

“After the evidence that we submitted today to the Supreme Court, there is no room for confusion: MKs who support Iran and visit terrorists in jail not only have no place in the Knesset but also have no place in the State of Israel,” said Ben-Gvir following submission of the appeal. “The time has come for justice to be done, and to remove the terrorism supporters from the Knesset.”

In December 2016, Basel Ghattas, who was serving at the time as an MK for the Joint List, was caught on prison security cameras passing cell phones and SIM cards to convicted Palestinian terrorists. He was convicted in April 2017 and served two years in prison.

"Netanyahu wants a pure Knesset, with only Jews," the Joint List said in response to the appeal. "We will make sure that the legacy of Netanyahu will be not only his indictments but also his endorsement of [late far Right rabbi Meir] Kahane."

The Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel condemned the Likud Party for participating in what it described as “a racist effort” to prevent political representation for Arab citizens.

“The request they submitted is not based on any reason that would allow the list to be disqualified in accordance with the law, and on a series of distorted proofs and racist interpretations whose basis is the revocation of the rights of Arabs to demand equal citizenship,” the organization said in response to the appeal.

The Joint List itself has attempted to get Otzma banned on the basis that the party has racist motivations against Arab citizens of Israel.

Last week, the Central Elections Committee rejected the petitions to prevent the Joint List, as well as Otzma and its candidates Ben-Gvir, Baruch Marzel and Bentzi Gopstein, from running in the upcoming election.  
Gil Hoffman contributed to this report

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