(photo credit: AP [file])
The Central Elections Committee rejected Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz's request to prevent right-wing activist Baruch Marzel from serving as a polling-station chairman in the Arab city of Umm el-Fahm on Tuesday.
Judge Eliezer Rivlin, head of the committee, sent Mazuz a letter detailing his decision on Friday.
"Each and every faction - including the Moledet faction - which you bundled with Mr. Marzel as defendant of your petition - has the right to determine its representatives in polling stations. With the absence of a local candidate in many polling stations, a party is allowed to dispatch an observer according to its choice, any observer, to any station where it is not represented [by a candidate], without announcing his identity ahead of the vote," Rivlin wrote.
"Whoever seeks to keep this or that observer from one polling station might find him - unannounced - in a different "problematic" polling station. The Central Elections Committee has no authority on the subject of the identity of factions' representatives allocated at random."
Earlier on Friday, Mazuz sent an urgent request to the committee in a bid to prevent Marzel from serving as chairman of the polling station.
Mazuz cited "grave concern" that there would "almost certainly be" a disruption of both public order and the management of the elections in the northern town.
In his reply, Rivlin also criticized Mazuz with a hint of sarcasm: "You add to your request an assessment by police saying it might need to deploy hundreds of officers due to Marzel's presence at the station. We have clarified to police yesterday that an apocalyptic vision such as this should meet appropriate measures of enforcement.
"The police representative is aware of the existence of such enforcement measures. I would expect that out of the position you hold you would turn to the enforcement authorities, the police and the Shin Bet, to remind them of their serious responsibilities. This request does not relieve enforcement authorities from their responsibilities."
"The elections committee, on its side, is continually 'checking the pulse' and will examine, as deemed necessary, the need to take measures that would allow the vote to take place in a lawful manner," Rivlin wrote.
Before Rivlin's reply was published, Marzel blasted Mazuz's request, calling it "unprecedented" and saying that the attorney-general had "no jurisdiction" on the matter.
"It has been proven, once again, that the Justice Ministry has an attorney-general who represents the Left," he said.
Already on Monday, the committee issued a statement noting that it had no legal authority to rule out a party representative from serving on a monitoring committee.
The statement noted that the Central Elections Committee approves the factions represented on the monitoring committees, and it is up to the factions themselves to appoint a representative.
On Wednesday, the Umm el-Fahm Municipality voted unanimously not to allow Marzel into the town, and the municipality expressed hope on Friday that the Central Elections Committee would agree to Mazuz's request and understand that Marzel monitoring the polling station would constitute a severe provocation. Since the 1990s, the municipality has been run by the northern branch of the Islamic Movement.
Marzel, who is a former leader of the outlawed Kach movement, along with other activists, have repeatedly tried to hold a right-wing march through Umm el-Fahm, but the event has so far been delayed by police and by the Justice Ministry due to safety concerns.