The High Court of Justice would no longer be able to overturn a decision by the Central Elections Committee to disqualify a party or a particular candidate from running, according to a bill proposed Tuesday by Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman.
Ahead of the last several general elections, Arab parties or candidates were disqualified by the Central Elections Committee, which is a political body that is headed by a Supreme Court justice but made of representatives of parties. The High Court overturned every decision, enabling Joint List MK Haneen Zoabi, for instance, to run in the March 17 election.
“The goal of the bill is to return the authority over who is permitted to run to the Central Elections Committee and prevent the High Court from intervening,” Liberman wrote in the bill. “The committee has no real power over who can run, because absolute power was given to the High Court, which castrates the committee and renders its decisions worthless.”
Joint List MK Ahmed Tibi was suspended from his role as deputy Knesset speaker for two weeks Tuesday by the Knesset Ethics Committee. The committee punished Tibi for his role in an October 21 incident in which he was Knesset speaker and expelled Immigrant Absorption Minister Ze’ev Elkin off the rostrum while he was speaking and out of the plenum.
Elkin had attacked Tibi in his speech, accusing him of being complicit in terrorist attacks against Israelis and the deaths of the Muslim attackers who were killed by security forces.
“You and your friends are responsible for the wave of terrorism for spreading lies about what is happening on the Temple Mount,” Elkin told Tibi. “You are personally responsible for the bloodshed of Jews and Muslims. You should not be able to sleep at night, thinking about those who were killed.”
Tibi asked Knesset ushers to remove Elkin from the rostrum, calling his statement incitement and noting that he has received threats to his life.
“I have never killed anyone,” Tibi told the MKs in the plenum, noting that as a doctor, he has helped bring life into the world.
When Elkin refused to apologize, Tibi expelled him from the plenum.
Tibi and Elkin filed complaints against each other with the ethics committee, both of which were accepted.
The committee, which is headed by Shas MK Yitzhak Vaknin, ruled that Elkin behaved improperly in insulting the deputy speaker. The committee scolded Elkin without punishing him.
It found that Tibi was right to remove Elkin from the rostrum but wrong to expel him from the plenum.
Because Tibi has been a repeat offender, the committee decided to give him a significant punishment.
Tibi himself declined to respond to the decision, but his faction released a statement saying that the members of the committee were influenced by the anti-Arab atmosphere during the current security situation.
“A deputy Knesset speaker called Ahmed is still the speaker, even in an ethics committee that is undemocratic,” the faction said.Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.