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Israel’s Central Election Committee, at the service of the right?

Members of the Central Election Committee knew that their disqualification of certain candidates was a mere formality, which is why they took the liberty of inflicting a blow on democracy and minority rights
A man shows old ballot papers during a briefing for members of the media ahead of the upcoming Israeli election at the Israel Central Election Committee Logistics Center in Shoham, Israel March 6, 2019. REUTERS/Ammar Awad - RC1BEA8F8EA0
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“Politics provides practical solutions to problems; it is the art of the possible. But every so often the smell of these solutions is particularly vile.” This was how a senior Likud party Knesset candidate described (on condition of anonymity) to Al-Monitor Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s involvement in the alliance between the Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) party of ultranationalist Rabbi Meir Kahane’s disciples and the parties of the religious right. It is worth noting that Netanyahu actively promoted and supported this alliance in recent weeks in order to preserve the votes of the radical right from being lost in the April elections.

Therein (in this description) lies the explanation of the March 6 vote by Likud representatives on the Central Election Committee against disqualifying candidates of the ultranationalist party over their anti-Arab invective. Attorney Aner Helman, representing Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, presented the panel, comprised of lawmakers from the outgoing Knesset, with examples of Otzma Yehudit’s statements. These included a particularly egregious one from August 2018 by Otzma Yehudit Chair Michael Ben Ari, No. 5 on the United Right-Wing Parties’ Knesset slate. “We have to change the equation regarding anyone who dares to speak against a Jew. [Such a person] is a dead man. He must not come out alive. No expelling him, no stripping him of his citizenship. He does not live! A firing squad takes him out as the Arabs understand [best],” Ben Ari said.

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