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Dr. Michael Ben-Ari, Ph.D in archeology and Member of Knesset from 2009 - 2013 with the National Union party.(Photo by: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Mandelblit favors preventing Ben-Ari's candidacy
By GIL HOFFMAN
03/07/2019
Extreme right candidate Michael Ben-Ari, a disciple of Rabbi Meir Kahane, should be disqualified, according to Attorney General.
Otzmat Yehudit candidate Michael Ben-Ari should be prevented from running in the April 9 election, Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit wrote the Central Elections Committee late Tuesday night.

The committee will convene Wednesday morning to consider requests to disquaify the candidacies of Balad and Otzma Yehudit candidates. Mandelblit wrote that he supported permitting Otzma Yehudit candidate Itamar Ben-Gvir as well as the entire Balad Party to run, but he opposed the candidacy of Ben-Ari on the grounds that he has incited to racism.

Ben-Ari is fifth on the Union of Right-wing Parties list that includes Bayit Yehudi and the National Union. Ben-Gvir is eighth on the list.

Otzma Yehudi expressed outrage at Mandelblit recommending to disquaify the party but allow Balad to run.

"There must be a limit to the hypocrisy," the party said in a statement.

Meretz praised Mandelblit's decision about Ben-Ari, saying that the attorney-general had given a red card to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who facilitated he deal with Bayit Yehudi that enabled the Otzma Yehudit candidates to run on the list of religious Zionist parties.

Labor Party Chairman Avi Gabbay tweeted in response to Mandelblit's recommendation that "There is no place for Kahanists in the Knesset. The Attorney General has raised a red flag to Netanyahu. Netanyahu's corrupt deal almost brought Kahane back to life and put Ben-Ari in the Knesset."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had pushed for Otzma Yehudit to unite with Bayit Yehudi in a bid to get more right-wing MK's into the Knesset. The resulting merger caused an outcry as Netanyahu was accused of legitimizing racism, as Otzma Yehudit's candidates are influenced by extremist rabbi Meir Kahane, who called for the expulsion of Arabs from Israel.

Zack Evans contributed to this report.

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