Central Elections Committee votes to stop Labor candidate from running

The Supreme Court is likely to overturn the decision.

Illustration of  voting notes in the Israeli general elections on March 02, 2020. (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
Illustration of voting notes in the Israeli general elections on March 02, 2020.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
The Central Elections Committee voted on Wednesday to accept petitions by the far-right Otzma Yehudit Party to disqualify the Labor Party’s seventh candidate, Ibtisam Mara’ana, from running in the March 23 Knesset election.
The decision came by a 16-15 vote with two abstentions. The votes for disqualifying her came from the Likud, Shas, Yamina, Bayit Yehudi, the National Union and Gesher. Blue and White, Yesh Atid, Labor, Meretz and the Arabs voted against the move. Yisrael Beytenu and Derech Eretz did not participate in the vote. UTJ abstained.
Otzma Yehudit head Itamar Ben-Gvir, who proposed the petition, argued not only for preventing Mara’ana from running but also explained why, if she were Jewish and spoke against Arabs as she did against Jews, she would have been arrested.
Mara’ana’s lawyer, Guy Bussy, said she never came close to incitement to racism, supporting terrorism against Israel or opposing Israel’s existence as a Jewish and democratic state, the three conditions for disqualifying candidates from running for Knesset.
The Supreme Court is likely to overturn the decision.
Labor leader Merav Michaeli said the reasons for disqualifying Mara’ana were ridiculous.
“Ibtisam is a partner in building a future together in the State of Israel,” Michaeli said. “We will not let violent people dictate their racist worldview to the country.
Mara’ana thanked those who supported her on Twitter after the decision, adding that she is “stronger and more determined than ever.
“I will fight until the end for our democracy and for our right to live with dignity and equality in order to protect our home,” she wrote.
Mara’ana has in the past made extreme statements, including calling Gaza “a ghetto under cruel occupation” on social media. She left the 12th slot on the Meretz list in 2009 before the election to protest the party’s support for Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip.
She has boasted about the joys of continuing to drive during the sirens on Holocaust Memorial Day and called for destroying the town of Zichron Ya’acov. Less than two months ago, Mara’ana called the IDF “the occupation army” and accused its soldiers of murdering a Palestinian child. In a social media post, she called Israel “ugly.”
Mara’ana apologized for hurting anyone’s feelings, in an interview with Channel 12 on Saturday night.
Besides petitioning against Mara’ana, Otzma Yehudit petitioned against the Joint List and Ra’am (United Arab List). Those petitions fell by a vote of 15 to three because Likud representatives did not participate.
The Likud said its representatives did not vote, because Arab citizens realize the Joint List no longer represents them. The party released a statement ruling out any coalition with the Joint List or Ra’am or even relying on them from outside the coalition.
The committee is made up of representatives of factions in the outgoing Knesset.
Idan Zonshine contributed to this report.