Likud disqualifies Ethiopian candidate

Immigrant slot reserved for post-'85 olim; Aleli Admasu: Clearly Likud is an Ashkenazi, elitist party.

The Likud Election Committee on Wednesday disqualified an Ethiopian candidate from running in the 28th slot on the party's Knesset slate and replaced him with a Russian immigrant. The committee decided that Aleli Admasu was not eligible for an immigrant slot because he had made aliya in 1983, while 1985 was the year established by the committee as the earliest date of immigration for a candidate to still be considered a new immigrant. It accepted an appeal by Russian-born businessman Vladimir Shklar to place him on the list instead. Shklar finished second for the slot, some 2,000 votes behind Admasu, 47, a father of five from Rishon Lezion. The decision angered Ethiopian activists and provided cannon fodder for critics of the Likud from across the political spectrum. "Now it is clear that the Likud is an Ashkenazi, elitist party," said Ethiopian-born Kadima MK Shlomo Mula. Admasu said he had informed the committee before the race began about when he had immigrated, and it approved his request to run for the immigrant slot. He said he would appeal the decision to both internal Likud and external courts. "Injustice was done to me and to my entire community," the distraught Admasu said. "I won't say it's because I'm Ethiopian. I just want justice to come to light." Shklar said he was unhappy that Admasu had to lose his place in the Knesset but that the committee had made a decision based on the party's rule book. "You have to play by the rules of the game," said Shklar, a former chairman of the Betar Jerusalem soccer club. "I am very happy that justice was done and I will serve the public that voted for me and the people who didn't." Shklar, 51, lives in Jerusalem and is a former director of the Jerusalem sports authority. His daughter recently made aliya with her American husband from Louisville, Kentucky. "There is no doubt having three Russian speakers on the Likud list - more than the Likud has ever had - will give the Likud massive Russian votes, as it received in 2003 when the party won 38 seats," Shklar said. The decision by the committee to remove a candidate from a Knesset seat that he thought he won set a precedent that could result in Danny Danon being replaced in the slot on the list reserved for a candidate from the coastal areas between Tel Aviv and Haifa. Former basketball star Tal Brody finished second to Danon for the slot, but he appealed to a Likud court after an investigation revealed that Danon did not live in Tel Mond, as he had stated. The court is set to decide Thursday on Brody's appeal and another filed by former MK Michael Ratzon, who was demoted down the list for technical reasons last week, along with former MK Ehud Yatom and activist Moshe Feiglin. Ratzon said that if the court ruled against him, he would appeal to Tel Aviv District Court.