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How strong is Israel’s democracy?

Israeli society must let elected Arab Knesset members speak up, even if what they say angers most Israeli Jews and destabilizes consensus.
Heba Yazbak, Israeli Arab member of the Balad (National Democratic Alliance) party, speaks during a campaign rally for the Joint List political alliance ahead of upcoming September parliamentary elections, in the Arab town of Kafr Yasif in northern Israel on August 23, 2019. (Photo by AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)        (Photo credit should read AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP via Getty Images)
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The Central Elections Committee is a hybrid creature of politics and law. Its head is a veteran Supreme Court justice, and so is his substitute, but his deputies are Knesset members from the large parties, and the members of the committee reflect the party makeup of the Knesset. This is a very important committee that meets not just on the eve of an election, but also functions between elections when new elections are declared, and is entrusted with ensuring proper elections — making sure there are enough voting slips at each polling site, setting the hours the polls open and close, guaranteeing an accurate count of votes, preventing fraud, publicizing election results and ensuring fairness in campaign advertising and publicity. 

The most striking decision by a chairman of the committee was made in January 2003, when Supreme Court Justice Mishael Hashin ordered a halt to the television broadcast of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s speech, midway through, because his remarks, in Hashin's opinion, constituted prohibited election propaganda. 

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