AG rejects bids to bar Arab parties and far-right Jewish alliance from elections
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Ex-Jewish Home candidate also cleared to run on Likud slate

AG rejects bids to bar Arab parties and far-right Jewish alliance from elections

Mandelblit unpersuaded by claims Ra’am-Balad and Hadash-Ta’al seek to eliminate Israel, ultranationalists are a threat to equality; further petitions against Otzma Yehudit remain

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Representatives of the Central Elections Committee, February 20, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)
Representatives of the Central Elections Committee, February 20, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit on Monday rejected two petitions that called for disqualifying Arab Israeli parties from running in the coming Knesset elections, and a third that sought to boot the Union of Right Wing Parties from taking part in the vote.

In a letter to the chairman of the Central Elections Committee for the 21st elections for Knesset, Mandelblit wrote that a petition against Arab-Israeli party Ra’am-Balad that claimed its members “seek to eliminate Israel as a Jewish state” and support violent Palestinian resistance, as well as the Hezbollah terror group, was not supported by enough evidence.

A similar petition, also rejected, was filed against the Arab Israeli party Hadash-Ta’al, and against a Jewish member on its election slate, Ofer Kasif.

“The overall evidence presented in the framework of the two requests does not justify their acceptance, since there has not been a critical mass of evidence required to disqualify a list of candidates,” Mandelblit wrote.

Eli Ben-Dahan. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The two Arab Israeli slates broke off from the Joint List.

In other rulings, Mandelblit wrote he would allow the inclusion of Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben Dahan on the Likud party slate, even though he recently switched from the Jewish Home party.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit speaks during a conference at the national library in Jerusalem on June 6, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The attorney general also dismissed as having no grounds a petition against the Union of Right Wing Parties, a recent merger formed by the religious right-wing parties Jewish Home and the National Union, along with the extremist Otzma Yehudit. The petition had claimed the URWP “harms equality.”

There remain three further petitions against Otzma Yehudit, whose leaders are disciples of the late ultranationalist rabbi Meir Kahane. The party supports encouraging emigration of non-Jews from Israel, and expelling Palestinians and Israeli Arabs who refuse to declare loyalty to Israel and accept diminished status in an expanded Jewish state whose sovereignty extends throughout the West Bank.

Otzma Yehudit’s union with the other two right-wing parties was orchestrated by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanayhu in an effort to prevent votes being lost if the individual parties failed to cross the Knesset threshold of 3.25%. However, the specter of Otzma Yehudit gaining a seat in the Knesset has drawn criticism from Israeli lawmakers and major Jewish groups around the world.

Mandelblit rejected a petition against a campaign video by Otzma Yehudit that drew the ire of Arab lawmakers by depicting an IDF soldier hesitating to shoot a knife-wielding attacker over concerns he may violate strict rules of engagement. The petition had denounced the video as incitement to racism, but Mandelblit found that the clip was not likely to make anyone think that the IDF and its soldiers identify with the Otzma Yehudit party. To the contrary, “the video expresses reservations about the way the army operates,” he wrote.

Otzma Yehudit Campaign Ad Criticizes IDF Rules of Engagement

Israeli far-right political party Jewish Strength – Otzma Yehudit released a campaign ad mocking the Israel Defense Forces' rules of engagement for soldiers defending against terror attacks:

Posted by i24NEWS English on Monday, 4 March 2019

National elections are scheduled for April 9.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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