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Accepting Netanyahu-backed appeal, court bars ex-con from running in Likud primaries

Tel Aviv court says earlier decision by internal Likud body to overturn central committee’s disqualification of David Laniado was incoherent, lacked justification

David Laniado, candidate in the Likud primary elections, arrives for a court hearing at the Tel Aviv District Court, on August 9, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
David Laniado, candidate in the Likud primary elections, arrives for a court hearing at the Tel Aviv District Court, on August 9, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

The Tel Aviv District Court on Tuesday ruled to reverse a decision by Likud’s top legal body that would have allowed a man convicted of a series of burglaries and assaults to run in the party’s primaries on Wednesday.

The ruling marked a win for Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu, who earlier in the day tweeted a plea to party members not to vote for David (Dudu) Laniado and to instead back “worthy candidates whose election will not cause unnecessary damage to Likud.”

Laniado has been vying to represent the Tel Aviv district on the 38th spot of Likud’s slate.

The Likud party’s internal tribunal ruled on Monday that Laniado could run in the coming primaries, reversing a decision last week by the Likud election committee that had banned him over past convictions.

In the wake of the decision, Netanyahu instructed the Likud legal adviser to appeal the matter to the Tel Aviv District Court — an appeal that was accepted Tuesday by Tel Aviv District Court Judge Einat Ravid.

The judge said that the Likud internal court, which allowed Laniado to run, lacked adequate reasoning and had been incoherent in its ruling. Ravid added that the internal court had no legal justification for overturning the election committee’s decision to disqualify Laniado.

The disqualification was handed down over Laniado’s failure to report a criminal offense from over 10 years ago. Though it had been known Laniado was convicted under a plea bargain of a series of burglaries, Hebrew media reports then uncovered a further offense of breaking into a woman’s home and assaulting her.

Determined to continue his run following the disqualification, Laniado appealed to the Likud internal court, which ruled that he can participate in the primaries because there are legal difficulties in banning a candidate over crimes covered by the statute of limitations.

However, the Likud panel called on Laniado “to examine and consider the consequences of his candidacy, in light of his statement to us that if he is convinced that his candidacy harms the good of the movement, he will do the right thing on his own initiative.”

Likud party leader MK Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to the media at the Likud headquarters in Tel Aviv on July 26, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

In 2010, Laniado, who was under house arrest following a complaint filed by a woman, reportedly left his home, contrary to his release terms, arrived at the woman’s house and attacked her, as well as the police officer who arrived to arrest him, Channel 12 news reported last week.

Laniado was eventually sentenced to four months in prison and a further six months of probation in 2011 for the various offenses.

He has claimed he is the victim of a smear campaign by his rivals.

Likud reserves the 38th place on its Knesset election slate for the winner of local Tel Aviv District primary elections, held the same day as the party’s national primaries, which are scheduled for Wednesday. Current lawmakers cannot run in the district primaries.

Recent polls have predicted that Likud will win 33-35 seats in the coming November national elections for the Knesset. If the party is then part of the government, newly appointed ministers are likely to resign from the Knesset, meaning that whoever fills the 38th spot has a decent shot of making it into the parliament.

Laniado is not the first Likud primaries candidate to come under fire for past convictions.

In July, Hebrew media reported that Yonatan Jorno, who declared he was vying for the 29th spot on the Likud slate, was charged and convicted of kidnapping a Filipino worker in 2001.

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