(photo credit: INIMAGE)
The Union of Right-Wing Parties (URP) planned its next steps the day after the High Court of Justice banned former MK Michael Ben-Ari from running in the election.
URP asked Central Elections Committee chairman and Supreme Court Justice Hanan Melcer to allow them to change their list, even though the final deadline passed, in order to put Itamar Ben-Gvir in Ben-Ari’s fifth-place spot.
Ben-Ari and Ben-Gvir are from the Otzma Yehudit Party. In the agreement forming URP, the party received the fifth and eighth slots on the list.
“As you know, in a most unusual move, the High Court banned Dr. Michael Ben-Ari’s candidacy,” URP’s leaders wrote. “This ban of a candidate from a list made up of several parties is a mortal blow to the Otzma Yehudit Party’s representation in the Knesset and could negatively influence the results of the election. The right to vote and be elected is a basic constitutional right, and preventing representation of part of the population harms that basic right.”
URP’s leaders also noted that the committee had not yet authorized their list and pointed to precedent of other parties being allowed to make changes.
In addition to moving Ben-Gvir up, they asked that Yitzhak Shimon Wasserlauf, who is currently 39th on the list, be put in eighth place. His social media accounts show that he is an enthusiastic party activist, is 27 years old, served in the IDF’s Golani Brigade, studied in religious-Zionist yeshivas and lives in south Tel Aviv, where he was a student of Rabbi Ahiad Ettinger, who died on Monday from wounds in the previous day’s terrorist attack in Ariel.
As the URP agreement stands, Otzma would break off from the bloc after the elections, implying that Otzma would likely remain in the opposition – something Ben-Ari confirmed in an interview with KAN Bet Radio on Monday. The other parties in URP would support him as the opposition candidate for the Judicial Selection Committee.
Earlier Monday, MK Bezalel Smotrich asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the leaders of parties in the now-disbanded coalition, as well as Yisrael Beytenu, to support calling an emergency meeting of the Knesset to cancel article 7a of Basic Law: Knesset.
The article in question states that a candidate or list cannot run in Knesset elections if his or her actions or statements, which were either “explicit or implied,” reject Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, incite to racism, or support armed conflict by an enemy state or terrorist organization against Israel.
In addition, anyone who was in an enemy state in the years before an election could be considered a supporter of armed conflict against Israel. A Central Elections Committee decision to ban a candidate from running must be authorized by the Supreme Court.
Smotrich argued that canceling that portion of the law will allow Ben-Ari to run. The High Court banned Ben-Ari on grounds that he incited to racism, whereas United Arab List-Balad, Hadash-Ta’al and Hadash candidate Ofer Kassif were permitted to run in the election, overturning the committee’s votes determining that he rejects Israel as a Jewish and democratic state and supports armed conflict against the nation. Ben-Ari is the first individual candidate to ever be banned by the court after being authorized by the committee.
“Yesterday, we heard many condemnations of the High Court’s decision, but talk is not enough: It is time for action,” he said. “For the first time in the history of Israel, a supposed council of wise men decided who the citizens of Israel can vote for.”
Smotrich’s initiative is a longshot, as Knesset meetings during an election recess are very rare, and passing a law during this period is even more so.
A group of Otzma activists protested the ruling outside Supreme Court President Esther Hayut’s home in Tel Aviv on Monday evening.
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