The Meretz Party and Labor MK Stav Shaffir petitioned the Central Elections Committee to disqualify Otzma Yehudit from running in the upcoming election.
Shaffir’s petition, submitted on Monday, is based on the fact that Otzma’s leaders were members of an organization that is considered a terrorist group by the US. She specifically petitioned against former MK Michael Ben-Ari, who is in a realistic spot on the Union of Right-Wing Parties (URP) list, because he was a founder of Rabbi Meir Kahane’s Jewish Idea Yeshiva.
The MK wrote to Central Elections Committee chairman Justice Hanan Melcer: “I ask to bring before you his senior membership and his having been a founder of the Jewish Idea Yeshiva, whose name appears on the list of terrorist organizations in the US, and whose founder, Meir Kahane, was banned from the Knesset and from running for it because of those same activities,” meaning, racial incitement.
In addition, Shaffir said Ben-Ari was recently a member of the yeshiva’s audit committee, which she said shows that he is still involved and supports its ideas.
“Please, urgently and seriously weigh clearly delineating what is forbidden and permissible in Israeli democracy,” she added. “It cannot be that those who call for [population] transfer, racial separation between Jews and non-Jews, violent harm to non-Jews and are members of organizations that the US, our most important ally in the world, define as terrorists, can serve in the Knesset.”
Meretz joined Shaffir’s petition, calling for the entire Otzma list to be banned.
The party said Otzma’s members “incited harm to the Arab population… in soccer stadiums and other areas to call for the systematic humiliation of the Arab population, through repeated attempts to revive the spirit and ideas of Rabbi Kahane, whose organization was declared a terrorist group.”
Otzma’s spokesman called the petitions “embarrassing” and questioned whether a lawyer looked at them before they were sent.
They pointed to one of the arguments in them – that Itamar Ben-Gvir, a candidate on the URP list and an attorney, represented the perpetrators of the 2015 Duma terror attack, in which an Israeli man killed three Palestinian family members, including an 18-month-old baby.
“This is an insult to the legal world, and it is clear that Meretz and Labor are in distress over a lack of votes and are trying to deal in gimmicks instead of the significant issues,” Otzma stated.
The party added that Meretz and Labor “flaunt freedom of expression, but are revealed to be hypocritical and feign piety.”
“It seems Meretz thinks it’s legitimate to visit [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] who encourages terrorism, but not legitimate that lovers of Israel acting for the State of Israel will sit in the Knesset,” Otzma said.
Meretz and Labor MKs have visited Abbas in recent years.
Also on Monday, Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman said that he would not be in the same coalition as Otzma Yehudit, because of their views on matters of religion and state.
Liberman said he has a “long history of confrontations” with Otzma’s members, whom he called more radical on religious issues than the haredi parties UTJ and Shas.
“If I meet them in the Knesset, I won’t say hello to them,” Liberman said. “They are delusional people and nothing beyond that.”
Hebron activist Baruch Marzel, one of Otzma’s leaders, said that Liberman just wants attention, and will only see the next Knesset on TV.
“I am proud of my and my friend Michael Ben-Ari’s stance against the Judaism-hater Liberman in our struggle to preserve the holiness of the Sabbath and the Jewish character of the State of Israel. Liberman should understand that Israel is not Soviet Russia but a Jewish state,” Marzel said.