Election c'tee to review requests to bar parties

Central Elections Committee to review 12 requests to disqualify parties, individuals from elections, including Shas, Balad's Zoabi.

Balad MK Haneen Zoabi 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Balad MK Haneen Zoabi 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
The Central Elections Committee will review 12 requests to bar parties and individuals from running for the 19th Knesset on Wednesday, despite Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein’s recommendation not to disqualify anyone.
There are six petitions against the Balad party, submitted by MKs David Rotem (Yisrael Beytenu), Danny Danon (Likud) and Ophir Akunis (Likud); leaders of the new Strong Israel party leaders and current National Union MKs Michael Ben-Ari and Arieh Eldad; the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel; and an individual named Itai Forman.
Akunis also submitted signatures from 13 Central Elections Committee members to call a vote to disqualify Balad MK Haneen Zoabi.
In addition, Strong Israel petitioned to disqualify United Arab List-Ta’al.
The petitions to bar Zoabi and her party from running are based mostly on claims that they do not recognize Israel as a Jewish and democratic state and support armed combat against Israel.
Article 7A of the Basic Law: The Knesset, says that a party list or an individual candidate cannot reject Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, incite to violence or support armed combat by an enemy state or terror organization against the State of Israel.
Five petitions were submitted to disqualify Strong Israel on grounds of racism and being undemocratic, by Hadash MKs; Balad MKs; new party Eretz Hadasha; the Coalition Against Racism in Israel; and social activist Oren Pasternak.
The final petition, submitted by Jerusalem city councilwoman Laura Verton (Meretz) along with several women’s organizations, seeks to prevent Shas and United Torah Judaism from running for the 19th Knesset on grounds that they discriminate against women by not having any females on their candidate lists.
The Central Elections Committee will hold a meeting to discuss and vote on the various requests on Wednesday morning, and, if necessary, will continue on Thursday.
Labor announced that it will vote against the disqualification of any parties, because the freedom to express opinions is a tenet of democracy.
“Disqualification on the Right or the Left is a dangerous, slippery slope in a time where we have to stand strong and protect democracy, even if we are repulsed by many of the things said by parties and MKs being discussed,” said MK Isaac Herzog (Labor).
Herzliya Mayor and Yesh Atid candidate Yael German spoke out against the exclusion of women in haredi parties that present “dark worldviews that are dangerous to Israeli society” and called for such discriminatory practices to be declared illegal.
Should the committee ban a party or individual from running, the decision can be appealed in the High Court of Justice. The only disqualification ever upheld by the High Court was Rabbi Meir Kahane’s Kach Party in 1988.
On Monday, Weinstein said he did not find sufficient legal grounds to disqualify anyone.
The attorney-general deemed the evidence gathered against Zoabi “disturbing and substantial” and “close to the level of being prohibited,” but said it ultimately did not reach the “critical mass” for disqualifying her.
The attorney-general stated that some evidence existed against UAL-Ta’al indicating a “disturbing closeness to the ideas” of rejecting the Jewishness of the State of Israel and some indications of support for the armed struggle of a terrorist organization.
However, the evidence presented was weak and could not justify disqualifying the two parties according to the relevant Supreme Court precedents on the issue.
Weinstein found the evidence against Balad “more troubling” but still lacking, compared to the evidence brought against the same party in 2003 – when it was ultimately allowed to participate in elections.
Addressing the request to disqualify Eldad and Ben- Ari’s Strong Israel for rejecting the “democratic” character of the State of Israel, Weinstein said the evidence presented is not convincing and unequivocal enough.
Regarding the idea of disqualifying the party on the basis of characterizing its campaign as racism, he said the evidence was “more substantive and disturbing,” but also did not meet the “critical mass.”