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Photo: Yariv Katz
Michael Ben-Ari
Photo: Yariv Katz
Elections panel to hear request to disqualify Otzma Yehudit
Labor MK Stav Shaffir submits petition to Central Elections Committee to stop MK Michael Ben-Ari of the far-right Otzma Yehudit Party from running after investigative report uncovered his ties to an NGO on the US terror blacklist.
Israel's Central Elections Committee will discuss a petition to disqualify the candidates of the Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) Party from running in the April 9 elections after one third of the panel's members signed off on the request. The committee, which is

 

 

Following an investigative report earlier this week, which uncovered former MK and Otzma Yehudit member Michael Ben-Ari's ties to an NGO on the US terror blacklist, MK Stav Shaffir (Labor) submitted a petition to the committee asking to prevent him from running to the 21st Knesset.

 

Three other parties in the current Knesset — Meretz, Joint List and Yesh Atid — lent their support to the request.

 

Labor MK Stav Shaffir; Otzma Yehudit member Michael Ben-Ari (Photo: Yoav Dudkevitch, Shaul Golan)
Labor MK Stav Shaffir; Otzma Yehudit member Michael Ben-Ari (Photo: Yoav Dudkevitch, Shaul Golan)
 

Yesh Atid, which is running as part of the Blue and White Party in the upcoming elections, said in a statement that, "The decision to join the request comes on the backdrop of our commitment to use all tools at our disposal to prevent the Kahanists from entering Israel's Knesset."

 

Otzma Yehudit said in response: "The cat's out of the bag and it now transpires that (Blue and White leader Benny) Gantz is seeking to form a government with the help of the terrorists' representatives in the Knesset."

 

The hostility toward Oztma Yehudit led to an exchange of barbs Tuesday between New Right leader Naftali Bennett and National Union leader Bezalel Smotrich, who were both part of the Jewish Home Party before the elections.

 

During an interview with Israel Radio, Bennett was asked whether he thought it was appropriate for people who consider Rabbi Meir Kahane to be a role model to serve in the Israeli parliament.

 

"No," he replied. "Anyone who undermines Israel's existence as a Jewish and democratic state is unworthy."

 

The Otzma Yehudit Party, including (L-R): Itamar Ben-Gvir, Michael Ben-Ari, Benzi Gopstein and Baruch Marzel (Photo: Avi Mualem)
The Otzma Yehudit Party, including (L-R): Itamar Ben-Gvir, Michael Ben-Ari, Benzi Gopstein and Baruch Marzel (Photo: Avi Mualem)

 

Smotrich, whose National Union Party, along with Jewish Home, has agreed to run for the Knesset with Otzma Yehudit, hit back, tweeting: "Some act with responsibility, and others seriously suffer from credibility issues." He backed his claim with a screenshot of a tweet Bennett posted earlier this month, in which he said it was "essential for Smotrich to unite with Otzma Yehudit."

 

The Otzma Yehudit Party is the latest incarnation of the Jewish National Front, a party that was established ahead of the 2006 elections, but its roots are in the Kach movement, which Kahane established in the 1970s.

 

Kach was a radical and racist right-wing movement with fascist characteristics; it called to expel Arab citizens from Israeli territory and promoted racist legislation against all non-Jews. It also believed in making Israel a Halachah state (ruled by Jewish law) and in annexing all parts of Greater Israel.

 

Kahane managed to get elected to the Knesset in 1984. In response, all of the parliament's factions came together to pass a law forbidding parties that incite to racism from running in the elections. The Kach Party and Kahane found themselves out of the Knesset, but different movements based on their ideology continued operating. 

 

Shahar Hai, Yuval Karni, Amihai Attali and Amir Alon contributed to this story.

 


פרסום ראשון: 02.27.19, 19:56
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